Marathon : Meanings hidden
An overly narrow definition of audience serves visitors poorly.
Marathon, a US-based oil company, has produced a pocket guide to industry terminology but does not distribute it effectively.
Marathon provides an A-Z Glossary that is readily available throughout its News section from the left-hand navigation. The content can be browsed via an alphabet bar at the top of the page that excludes those letters for which there are no entries. Definitions cover industry and related investment terminology such as ‘anomaly’, ‘backwardisation’, ‘barrel-mile’, ‘Brent blend’, ‘exchange contract’, ‘fuel oils’, ‘reserves in place’, ‘return on capital employed’.
Glossary is found in no other section of the site, including About Us, Investor Center and Careers, either in main navigation menus or related links. The annual Fact Sheet, a 40-page PDF file, lists a glossary in its index but this covers only acronyms found in the document.
Marathon’s Glossary is a terrific resource: it’s easy to use, its definitions are clear and well-written and it is not only picked up by the site search engine (helped by its being a web page and not a PDF file) but seems to be prioritised by it. But one explanation lacking is why it is confined to the News section – however low your opinion of journalists, they can’t be the only visitor group who don’t understand enough about the industry to need a primer in its terminology.
Jobseekers, individual shareholders, school children and the customer on the forecourt coming to the site could benefit from having the Glossary near to hand during their visit. Including it in section menus is one option for raising its availability; adding it to related links associated with publications such as Fact Book and Annual Review would put it at the point of most need. It could even be made a site tool or utility alongside Contact Us and Customer Service.http://www.marathon.com/News/Glossary/
First published on 24 March, 2011