Recently, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about Ron Popeil. An American inventor, Popeil is responsible for such gadgets as the Chop-O-Matic, the Veg-O-Matic, Hair in a Can Spray and the Showtime Rotisserie Oven which he hocked on many late night infomercials. It was this last product that has been on my mind much of late.
Popeil claimed that it was so easy to cook whole chickens in the Showtime Rotisserie Oven that all you had to do was “set it and forget it.” This phrase popped into my head recently while I was trying to explain my approach to website management.
Too many online staffs treat their websites like the Showtime Rotisserie Oven. They, say it with me, “Set it and Forget it.” Enamored with automation, they design sites that is chock full of headline pulls, RSS feeds and automated dayparting, Flash galleries, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a technophobe, but the problem I have is that all the automation becomes an excuse to not deal with their site unless there is a problem or special project. They never stop to ask, are the right stories are being presented at the right time? Is the best photo being featured? Are our visitors being best served? They never ask because well, it’s all automated.
To me, that just spells missed opportunities.
I believe that the pages on your site should showcase not just the best, but the most appropriate and appealing content that your visitors would want at a given moment. And yes, that means change comes often.
My approach is to use metrics to help plot a roadmap and then use your journalistic sense, your common sense to make the right choices. Are there places for automation? Of course, but your site won’t grow automatically it requires your constant attention.
So if you want to cook a chicken follow Popeil’s advice. But if you want to grow your site, take my advice and do the work yourself.