A couple of announcements of late have me scratching my head in wonderment. First comes the post by Bernard Hickey about MissionOn. I posted about MissionOn back in February (yes, you saw it here first) and my appraisal was that it was a good example of how not to do lots of things – deliver a central government message, build a website or educate youth. The general consensus of mission-on is that it is ugly, ineffective and very, very expensive ($10mill expensive by all accounts).
Then the other day we had the announcement by the Inland Revenue Department that they had contracted a company to build a website, based on flash (oh my gawd!) to teach small and medium businesses how to meet their tax obligations.
I have two main concerns with this – one technical and one strategic. So here we go…
Flash is a bad bad idea
The idea of creating some sort of interactive amusement arcade went out around a decade ago. Small and medium businesses want information – they want it quick and they want it simple – animations and the like are demeaning and disrespectful of their intelligence and limited time resource. When talking to business (especially SME but others as well) keep your design simple and clean – and in this country where Internet speeds are low, keep it media light.
Who ya gonna trust?
Let’s get one thing clear – SME’s don’t trust government agencies, SME’s don’t trust fat cat consultants wearing expensive suits (disclosure – the only suit I own was bought in Cairo and you can imagine what I paid for it!). SME’s do however trust their peers – fact is that upwards of 80% of the “advice” that an SME will get will be from it’s peer group – either talking to other businesses they deal with, or over a BBQ or beer. A government department driven site is about as ineffective as a corporate driven site.
So Ben, nice theory – now put your money where your mouth is…
This stuff is easy to talk about but doing it is the proving ground. I’ve made mention in the past that I’m working on a project around creating a SME community and I’m slowly getting closer to opening the covers on it a little. I’ve been running SME’s for around 15 years. I’ve also spend a few years heavily involved with economic development and business advisory stuff. All that exposure gave me a pretty good handle on where the holes lie.
We’re planning on taking the wraps off fully just before Christmas – and you’ll be able to read more about it before then here – stay tuned!