The Johari Window and your web site

Psychologists sometimes use the “Johari Window” to help demonstrate aspects of the self. the “window” was invented by two researcher – Joe and Harry – and their “Johari Window” has become a common feature of many self development courses and text books.

A new article on the Johari Window puts the whole thing into perspective, summarising it very well.

However, this article got me thinking. Could there be an equivalent of the Johari Window for web sites? And I’m convinced there is.

The Web Window at could have the “public site” – the part of your web site that your visitors can see and which you know they can see; you jointly agree on what’s on show. But there could be parts of your web site which you hide from visitors. These might be aspects of your e-commerce system or perhaps articles you don’t yet want published; you know it’s all there, but your visitors don’t. It’s your “private site”.

Then there’s the part of your web site that your visitors see that you don’t. They see, perhaps, the spelling mistakes you haven’t spotted; or the design errors – it looks good in your browser, for instance, but not theirs. They might spot the nonsense of your navigation system, which you think works fine; or they might see a page full of adverts at the expense of your articles. They see your web site differently to you; this is your “blind site”.

Most interestingly, though, is the part of your web site that neither your visitors nor you are aware of. This is the “potential site” – the ideas and money-making schemes that are locked away inside your site because neither you nor your visitors have thought of them yet.

The two most important aspects of your web site are the “blind site” and the “potential site”. Yet web site owners appear to give most of their attention to the “public site”. That means they are not exploiting the true potential of their site because they are either putting off their visitors (blind site) or not grasping opportunities (potential site).

Luckily, the answer to both aspects of this version of the Johari Window is to consider “brainstorming” sessions with your customers. Getting customers or web site visitors to let you know what they see on your web site, can help you move much of the “blindness” in your site into the “public area”. But those sessions can also help you produce ideas that previously you had never thought of – the “potential site”.

One way of kick-starting this process is for you to list all of the things that you know about your web site – and which you are confident your visitors know in your “public” window. Then list the “private” items you are confident your visitors will not know about. Now ask your visitors what they see – you will be able to get some information which will inevitably go into your “blind” window. And that would be a good starting point to improve your web site.

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