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Getting it Exactly Wrong.

Once upon a time the Group Benefits division of major insurance company wanted to created an new intranet site for their biggest client in the technology industry.

They figured that it would be a game changer. A greenfield of service improvements and revenue.

They came to us to be told exactly what it should be like. Our web experts, obviously, already knew. (Many of them spent a good portion of each day researching just this question.

Almost everyone agreed, but I'm sad to say the one dissenting voice wasn't mine. Greg Pellet (who now heads up Modeling and Analytics at the TD Bank) told us "You don't know that. This is important. We better be sure."

So the team went to work creating three user interfaces (web sites) to be discussed in focus groups made up of real users from the technology firm.

The first interface was 'state of the art'. Smooth, cascading menus so that you could find virtually anything in a single click.

The second might have been described as 'current technology'. Two navigation axis that allowed efficient navigation for the two major intentions of the site (submitting and tracking claims and finding policy and program information).

The third rendition endured little thought but lots of jokes. It was a throw back. Big buttons, little information per page, lots of next buttons. Not clever at all.

Well, you can probably guess what happened in the focus group. They liked the throw back. They didn't want clever at all. And if they thought they would need to go back to a piece of information, they'd just bookmark it.

Group Benefits was pleased. We built the right site and if there was a greenfield at the end of it, they knew that they were well positioned to take competitive advantage.

Please note that I'm not suggesting that every decision needs a focus group, but as Greg will tell you, you need to work hard to get it right.