How Research-Driven Organizations Become Thought Leaders

You’re a Bad Navigator

Research-driven organizations, as a rule, are (unlike the rest of the world) obsessed with what’s on their websites.

So why do their websites all look the same? And why is the content so dull?

It’s because these organizations aren’t obsessed with their websites as vehicles of differentiation — but as extensions of their organizations and organizational mindsets.

They’re obsessed that their websites a) display the content they think is important, adhering to b) a tortuous exploratory journey of an exceedingly curious first-time visitor who doesn’t exist, except in the heads of the organizations’ leaders.

Curiously, the navigations of these websites all look the same. About Us. Contact Us. Blog. We’re in Lake Wobegon, and all the children are above average.

Jim Thornton of Content Audience writes that we do this “even we we already have clear indications of the most impactful or resonant content” we’ve produced.

Thornton recommends having “at the very least” a BASH item on your nav — “Best Articles” or “Start Here.” “They do extraordinarily well compared to other nav items as a portion of clicks,” he writes.

“Start Here” forces you to decide how you want to organize your subject matter for those new to your content. You have to suspend as best you can the curse of knowledge, channel your beginners’ mind.

“Best Articles” can be a quick one and done of your most popular, commented, trafficked, shared, linked to, or some combination.

This is the content people will talk about; will share; will search for; will subscribe to you for; will have in somewhere mind when they want to partner with you, fund you, cover you, work for you. Thornton calls it top of the funnel stuff; but in my experience with research-driven orgs, it often persists in the memory of the user far longer. First impressions, etc.

But if that’s the case — if BASH content can be that galvanizing — why stop at your website?

Why not take steps so that your organization can produce BASH content consistently and frequently? Why not make it a strategic pillar?

No one sane would post a link to an “About Us” page in social — ever, much less three times a week. In social, the premium is on interesting, engaging and relevant. As with the rest of life.

You are a bad navigator. Your audience is telling you which direction to sail. Turn the wheel.