How to deal with the hippo on your website

You may have a hippo problem, but not be familiar with this wonderful way of describing it. The hippo problem occurs when you, as a web editor, designer or content strategist, come up against the views of people who are senior to you and much better paid. HIPPO stands for the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion.

Senior people tend to want the stuff they’re interested in to be prominent on the organisation’s website. Some may be worried about compliance and want a lot of detail about your product or service up front, which you think obscures the message. Maybe one just loves a certain shade of blue.

Whatever their views, they are often at variance with yours as to what will make the website succeed in its aim of getting more business, increasing useful traffic to your site or generating interest in your newsletters.

You need evidence to back up your views. The good news is that there is plenty around. Lots of advice is available from gurus such as the Nielsen Norman Group, who conduct huge amounts of usability research.

You can use statistics on your site to show which pages are most visited and at which stage, for example, users abandon a purchase.

Even better is to test alternative versions of your pages. You need a certain volume of traffic and you do have to construct the tests carefully to show that one version got better results than another, but that kind of evidence should help you deal with the hippo.

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