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From Good to Great: Managing an Effective International Web Site. Digital Economy Forum 2006 Robert H. Smith School of Business University of Maryland October 6, 2006. Nick Harrison Editor-At-Large World Bank Web Site. The Local Impact of a Global Challenge.

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from good to great managing an effective international web site
From Good to Great: Managing an Effective International Web Site

Digital Economy Forum 2006

Robert H. Smith School of Business

University of Maryland

October 6, 2006

Nick Harrison


World Bank Web Site

the local impact of a global challenge
The Local Impact of a Global Challenge
  • How one large institutional site evolved, and the lessons that may provide
  • Processes for analyzing the state of the site and how to move it forward
  • Empowering users
  • New directions for greater impact
management approach
Management Approach

Let the Mushrooms Flourish

a plethora of publishing
A Plethora of Publishing
  • The Bank’s internal content management system has logged over 175,000 content items on 1,283 sites since 2003. These items were published by 932 individuals.
  • In 2005 alone, over 76,000 content items were published. A small number of publishers tend to carry the burden — 86 percent of the content items are posted by 26 percent of publishers.
an active and growing site
An Active and Growing Site
  • In one six-month period, the site served some 45 million pages views to over 6.5 million individuals and recorded 8.2 million visits.
  • In any month, it attracts about a million unique visitors, who view eight million pages during 1.4 million visits.
  • It ranks among the 10,000 most visited on the Internet. Its ranking increased by 11 percent from the last detailed analysis, in November 2004.
  • Over 300,000 downloads are recorded each month.
  • Bank staff account for about 7 percent of page views
Over 900,000 pages from other sites have links pointing to the Bank as a source of relevant information on development.
too much too soon
Too Much, Too Soon?

The Bank offers about 1,040 sites. Of these, 54 percent have fewer than 10 visitors per day.

the long tail question
The Long Tail Question

Most traffic (77 percent of page views) is served on 10 percent of the sites.

are people finding what they want
Are People Finding What They Want?

In any given month, 6.4 out of 10 visitors are coming for the first time, while 15 percent can be considered “frequent visitors,” having visited more than five times.

a powerful draw but how sticky
A Powerful Draw, But How Sticky?

A large number of visits consist of single page views, while about 20 percent look at more than five pages.

searching for development
Searching for Development

Almost half the traffic (46 percent) comes from search engines, followed by visitors using links from other sites (28 percent) and, finally, direct access where visitors type in the URL or follow a bookmark on a browser (26 percent).

content production
Content Production

The Swiss Cheese Approach


Over half the Web staff are site managers or content providers. About a quarter provide technical support as webmasters. Editors constitute 16 percent. Marketing is the main activity of 3 percent.


Web work constitutes an additional duty for the majority of people who contribute to sites. Well over half spend under 20 percent of their time on related tasks.

scatter shot results
Scatter-Shot Results
  • The site offers a wealth of content across competing pages and within variable navigation structures.
  • There are 13 sites that address trade, published by eight different Units.
  • Similarly, HIV/AIDS is covered by at least 10 sites published by seven Units.
  • A similar spread of coverage can be found for topics such as transport, gender, governance, civil society, etc.
  • Search and information retrieval remain as critical issues for a majority of users.
top user categories

Organizational groupings
















World Bank

Civil society

Top User Categories
hands on involvement
Hands-On Involvement
  • Work on Development Projects — 14.5%
  • Study Development — 14.2%
  • Manage Development Projects — 11%
  • Provide Technical Expertise — 10%
  • Provide Business Services — 9%
  • Teach — 7%
  • Concerned Citizen — 5%
what they seek
What They Seek

Page views show the most visited areas:

  • Country Pages — 22%
  • Data and Research — 18%
  • Topics — 13%
  • Jobs — 12%
  • Project and Operations — 11%
slight slowdown in satisfaction
Slight Slowdown in Satisfaction

In 2004, 90 percent found it useful or very useful; this year 80 percent did so.

areas for improvement

What would improve your experience on the site?

More relevant search results


More stories about the impact of


World Bank projects

The ability to customize content to


my needs

More maps and geo-referenced


materials (GIS)

Additional content in languages


other than English

More Multimedia (photos, videos)


More online discussions


Areas for Improvement
realizing the potential
Realizing the Potential
  • Shift the Focus from Sites to Content and Audiences
  • Create a Content Strategy for the Future
  • Staff for Core Competencies
  • Address the World through Many Languages
  • Adopt Technology that Adapts
  • Establish Governance for a Shared Purpose
from sites to content and audiences
From Sites to Content and Audiences

Organize content based on ways people look for development-related information:

  • Demographic
  • Thematic
  • Geographic

Development professionals define themselves quite precisely as belonging to demographic groups (economist / policymaker / social scientist / etc.) with interests in a thematic specialty (health / roads / private-sector reform / etc.) and often a particular geographic area (East Asia / Benin / Yoruba Province / etc.) which in turn can guide the structure and presentation of much of the Bank's available information.

content strategy for the future
Content Strategy for the Future

Evolve from the silo mentality to a user-centric approach to better organize, present and disseminate information, and to measure the effectiveness of those efforts. The goal would be to:

  • Inform and engage interested parties about the Bank's work at a high level of sophistication and openness (the "operational core”)
  • Foster a greater understanding of the institution as a Knowledge Bank / Global Advocate for Development (to strengthen support for our institution).
staffing for core competencies
Staffing for Core Competencies
  • There is a growing acknowledgement that specific expertise is needed for planning, gathering, writing and editing Web presentations in ways that meet both the objectives of the institution and the needs of its primary audiences.
  • Core groups of editors and marketers at institutional, sector and regional levels could provide centers of competency that would enhance the delivery of content and provide guidance and support to content providers and site managers across the institution.
increased language coverage
Increased Language Coverage
  • An emphasis on improving content on non-English sites is showing results and should receive substantial additional support.
  • Traffic has increased significantly, notably for the French site (up 55 percent during the 12-month period ending February 2006) and Spanish (a 30 percent increase over the same period).
adopt technology that adapts
Adopt Technology that Adapts

Explore technology solutions not currently available on Bank sites for benefits such as better syndication of content, more openness of data, better profiling/understanding of users, better search engines, development of customized pages, and dynamic serving of content based on user profiles. All were identified in the user survey as priorities for the site.

governance for a shared purpose
Governance for a Shared Purpose

A structure to provide this unified approach would:

  • Define overall content policy and editorial focus on a 3-5 year basis
  • Coordinate and prioritize implementation of improvements
  • Recommend staffing and site management guidelines
  • Act as a catalyst for innovation and technology development
  • Monitor quality and measure impact and periodically report on the effectiveness of the Web
  • Review related implementation strategies and work plans
  • Serve as an advocate before senior management
questions comments
Questions? Comments?

Nick Harrison


World Bank Web Site