RyanAir Success Has Strong Web Lessons

    November 14, 2005

Despite record fuel prices, Ryanair makes record profits. Its no-frills website has helped this no-frills airline achieve such phenomenal success.

It’s good to know that, all over the world, human beings have something special in common in relation to their web behavior. Having traveled to 35 countries in the last five years, I was heartened by the common traits that we share. Whether in Asia, Europe or America, there is much that binds us together.

In fact, there is one web behavior attribute that I have found to be universal. It is that when people are on the Web they are cheap. Why, even the Swiss are cheap.

There is an important lesson to learn here. It applies to you, even though you’re managing a government or university website. It applies to you even though you’re managing an intranet.

What do people want most from government websites? Free stuff: benefits and grants. What do people want from intranets? Free stuff: employee offers, special discounts, cheap shares.

Ryanair.com will never ever win a design award from a prestigious institution focused on pushing the boundaries of interactive design. In fact, Ryanair.com is an affront to good design. It has two pieces of blinking text on its homepage, with each piece saying the exact same thing: BOOK NOW!

Ryanair.com floods its homepage with garish yellow, red and green. Its motto is “Fly Cheaper” and its lead story says: “2 million seats FREE”. Beside that is an ad for “Cheap Hotels”. It’s downright ugly. There should be a law against it.

Few people I meet like to admit that they fly Ryanair. And yet 35 million passengers will fly Ryanair in 2005, with the number expected to be 70 million by 2012.

Herein lies another important lesson. People lie. What they’re telling you in that survey you just did; it’s not true. People are cheap and selfish on the Web; they just don’t like admitting it. When staff get on your intranet, they could care less about collaborating and reading policy documents. What they want is to see what they can get for themselves; how they can move their own career forward.

Of course, people are much more than cheap, selfish and ambitious. However, and this is an important point, you’ve got to meet their basic needs first. You’ve got to be upfront, clear, precise, to-the-point, cheap.

A prospective student wants a prestigious, well recognized degree from a top ranking university, and they want to know what that will cost them. Try getting these basic facts from many university websites. Not easy.

Observe human nature. Get out and talk to people, but watch out to read between the lines of what they are saying to you. There is no greater skill a web manager can develop than a gut instinct for what your customer really needs.

Gut instinct is something you develop by a process of constant repetition, of constant observation. The Web is a simple place, really. Ryanair sells cheap flights, Amazon.com discounts; Skype gives free phone calls, and eBay is the world’s largest yard sale. Get to know what your customer needs. Get to know what they really care about.

For your web content management solution, contact Gerry McGovern http://www.gerrymcgovern.com

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