Content Jeopardy – Is your web providing answers or raising questions?

Ellen talked to yet another annoyed client on the phone. “Did you know I had to wait on the phone for 40 minutes,  listening to a stupid voice telling me I should start looking for information on your website?. If I had found the information on your website in the first place I wouldn’t have to call you at all, would I?!”

And I wouldn’t have to give the same answer over and over again, Ellen thought to herself and sighed.

–  Sometimes I wonder if we need a website at all since everyone keeps calling us anyway, she said to her colleague Nina during lunch break.
–  And why does everyone keep calling us? Nina asked.
–  Because they can’t find the answers on our web.
–  And why can’t they find the answers on our web?
–  Because the answers are hidden behind too much information.
–  Why is it hidden behind too much information?
–  Because we publish everything we produce.
–  Why do we publish everything we produce?
–  Because we don’t know what the clients are looking for and no one has time to find out anyway.
–  Why is it so? I thought we had editors working full time with the web?
–  We do. The problem is that they are busy feeding the web with new information, not answering questions.
–  Well, they don’t need to answer questions, do they? Nina said and smiled.
–  Don’t they?
–  No… you are the one helping the clients, right?
–  You bet I do. At least for those surviving the 40 minutes wait…

<em>Who is answering your clients’ questions today? Is your website taking more time than it saves? Many companies put up goals in terms of “Our new website will save time for our clients and our call center”. If you don’t know what primary answers your visitors are looking for online, you may end up wasting time for your clients, editors and call center.</em>

Are you solving problems or producing solutions?

Evan found himself surrounded by solutions. They were everywhere; on the floor, on his desk, in his briefcase. The ultimate scenario, right? Always having a solution whenever you might need one, he thought to himself and folded yet another paper plane from an old solution and threw it across the room.

Evan was the man of solutions. And he hated every second of it.

His paper plane accidently hit his colleague David on the head.
David looked up from his desk.

–  What’s your problem? he said with an irritated voice.
–  Ha ha, very funny.. Evan said. I don’t have any problems, only solutions.
–  Well, that sounds like a problem to me, David said and threw the paper plane in the bin.

Evan never liked this David guy. He clearly had problems. And why did he have to express them all the time?

–  So you think <em>I</em> have a problem, Evan said angrily. I really don’t have time for this nonsense, I am trying to solve things here and you’re disturbing me!

–  And what are you trying to solve then? David asked in a soft voice.
–  Everything! I need to find the best solution out of all these in front of me; Evan said and threw all the solution papers up in the air. Does it seem easy to you, does it?
–  So what problem are you trying to solve? David said standing in the middle of the paper rain.
–  No problem. Only solutions remember.
–  But how do you know which solution is the best one then?
–  Well… I guess I’ll find out soon. One of these has to be better than the rest. I mean I’ve really tried here to come up with as many different alternatives as I can. It’s just difficult to make the right choice.

David sat down next to Evan and whispered in his ear:
–  Don’t waste your time coming up with solutions to non existing problems. Use it to identify the real problem instead. If you only need one solution then what are all these other ones worth? David said and pointed at the papers on the floor.

Evan thought for a while. Then he gathered the papers and threw them in the paper bin.
– I guess they are best suited for feeding the paper bin.

– Well, maybe you have time to help me with a real problem then? David said.
– I’ll just bring my sol.., Evan said and glanced at his clean desk.

Nothing to bring, no back pack. Only one question:

– What is your problem?

<em>Don’t fill your desk with solutions to unidentified problems. They will only be in your way. Producing solutions that no one needs is a waste of time. Solving someone’s problem is time well spent. Until you know what problem you need to solve, the answer is never an answer. It is a question.</em>

<em></em> <em>“If I had an hour to save the world I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem</em><em> and one minute finding solutions.”</em>   Albert Einstein