Is your website forcing too much content on your users?

Meatballs!

Figuratively speaking.

Before you get too excited, these meatballs are metaphorical. Imagine for a moment, you and your plus one spot a quaint little restaurant as you stroll down the block. Curious, you pause to learn more about it. “Meatballs”, someone shouts at you! “Caesar salad, vegetable soup, branzino!” You haven’t even gotten through the door and looked around before the host is shouting menu items at you. What’s the likely response you’d give? You might be confused, mildly amused or suspicious. If you were really hungry you might ask for details, such as a table for two or if the meatballs come on a plate. Probably, you weren’t going to reach for your wallet and hold out your hand for a meatball.

This scenario is exactly what we’re seeing on a lot of websites. We arrive on the page and wonder what it is the company actually does. As we look for some simple and direct explanation of their primary purpose, we see lists of problems to solve, icons of services provided and menus filled with industry-specific needs. Strange as this may sound to website owners (and developers), these services don’t necessarily tell visitors what the company is about.

We’ve all heard the term User Experience or seen the shorthand (UX). I think there’s even a college degree in UX now. However, what does this really mean? For most, this is customer service. In essence, it is a little more than that. Much more, if you consider customer service as merely fixing problems, answering questions and taking sales orders. Experience with a capital X is the key element here. Walking away from that little restaurant, purchase or no purchase, what would you remember about the brand? The little Italian-style plaque beside the door or the smell of freshly baked bread? The checkered tablecloth or the waiter’s flour-stained apron, maybe? I’d wager you’d remember the screaming host yelling in your face about meatballs and how surprised and awkward you felt. Given enough time, you may forget about the actual behavior, and simply associate the restaurant with that awkward feeling. This is probably not the most conducive to being re-engaged, even if you find yourself nearby and hungry once more.

Keeping up with consistency.

Perception is another thing entirely, and shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to cohesion. For this, you should strive to understand and embrace your customer’s perception of your brand. If you sell swimwear, for example, your brand perception is likely to include warm weather, beaches, sun tans and sexiness. A dark blue background split by a white-hot lightning bolt over the words, electric swimwear, might be executed with beautiful artwork – but its design is noticeably lacking. Your product, packaging, brand and overall message should be consistent with brand perception as well.

If your brand is spread out over many products, concepts or services, it might be hard to establish a cohesive message. Consider creating individual brands or collections that each carry a cohesive messaging related to their product, appearance and perception. Creating a style guide is a great way to help organize your branding and brand assets and provides a good visual representation of your umbrella brand. A style guide also formalizes how those assets can be used to provide consistency. With or without a style guide, before designing a large offering, consider how each segment might or might not fit into any existing brands or if any new brands are needed. Of course, you can always outsource such an assignment ;-)The user’s experience is important for a few reasons, not just to get them to make a purchase or call your salesman. This interaction with your brand might mean a lasting impression and the difference between someone who’ll tell others about you and someone who might avoid your business in the future. A memorable and positive experience can yield repeat business, larger orders, brand ambassadors and quicker sales. Visitors to your site might be checking out your brand before they stop by in person or after they met your salesman. Maybe they’re comparing you to a competitor. Even if these visitors aren’t looking to make a purchase right now, their experience will directly affect your success.

Take a look at your own website, or as you think about having one built for you, consider what a potential customer might think of it. It might go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. You, your employees, your friends or your family may not be your target audience. Even if they are, they may not represent your average audience member. Consider what a potential customer might think when they first arrive on your website. Perhaps they aren’t experts in the industry (maybe they should be, or they only work for someone who is). The first thing a visitor expects to see is some indication of what the website owner does. Not lists of services you provide, they want to know how you can help them, even if they don’t understand how you do what you do. A bold elevator pitch, mission statement or straightforward claim is the website version of a welcoming handshake and introduction. If your industry is technical, but your clients aren’t necessarily experts, this concept is even more important. Perhaps your target client is a business that might purchase your technical service. Are you designing the experience for the decision maker who might agree to hire your company or the technician who will be working with your product or service? Remember to include them both in your design, at the appropriate page. Industry experts might skip over your homepage looking for those service lists, while other types of customers might want to read the very first words on your website to get a sense of who you are. All the clever service names, reassuring icons and industry jargon can wait till later. First, tell them they are in the right place. Tell them you have a nice table for two by the window and when they settle in and have a moment to look around, you can offer to read them the specials and tell them about your meatballs.


Don't Let Your Business Fall Into The Wrong Hands

Don't Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

Don’t Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

You've Been Hurt Before

Don't Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

Recently, we met with a client whose branding and website we are now developing. As part of our assessment process we reviewed the history of her business, how it had evolved and where it had become stagnant. We discovered that she had worked with other companies before. Apparently, she left her business in the hands of a developer who did not understand her needs. When we uncover this sort of thing there is usually some reasoning that made some sort of sense at the time. Maybe it was someone’s relative, or a friend owed her a favor. Maybe the concept of an internet presence was so out of her comfort zone that she was easily swayed into believing that only a web expert could help her. Whatever the reason, our client ended up using a developer who wasn’t aware of what she wanted to accomplish.

Putting your business in its entirety into the hands of a web developer would be akin to leaving your business under the control of the builder who constructed your office space. Our client needed a web professional, but she also needed her brand and her product to have the right story, the right treatment that would introduce it to the world. If you aren’t going to work closely with your developer, to create the ideal space for your business to function in, then someone you trust should do it. If your developer isn’t interested in any sort of tailor-made environment for your business, you should take a long hard look at your budget and your goals and then find another developer.

When marketing and design come together, wonderful things can happen.

Your Business Is Unique

Don't Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

Over the course of the past four years she had worked with multiple providers to create and evolve her branding and she was very disappointed with her end results. She was so dissatisfied with what she had, that she was actually embarrassed to promote her business and crippled to move forward.
Working with generalist providers made it difficult for her to make progress. There was no tangible process and no measures taken to help her reveal the goals she wanted to reach. Without a deep understanding of her product and business, no objectives were ever determined, and consequently none were to be realized. She went through the process of outsourcing many trivial creative projects. She ended up with lesser components and no comprehensive way to sew it all together. With unsatisfactory deliverables and no roadmap in hand she found her way to us, and prepared herself to start all over again.

We’ve witnessed this pattern repeat itself time and again over the years: generalist firms selling template solutions for complex problems. It had become apparent to us some time ago that this could have the potential to become a very real problem for a great many people. We’ve witnessed these providers repeatedly treat symptoms with no attempt to diagnose the deeply rooted issues festering below the surface. Without having a deep knowledge of the intimate space it would be impossible to know the best way to solve industry specific problems.

With only providers that lack the unique expertise, specific to your industry, there is definitely something missing from the equation. From what we’ve seen, the likelihood of successful outcomes has been predictably low in cases where the client uses only a generalist firm. Unfortunately, that is the space the majority of our clients are in when we meet them. They have been failed by other companies that are unable to see the big picture. They are not used to working with a company that cares about their brand or a provider that understands their industry. Companies should get involved and become informed about the product or service that they intend to represent. Firms should understand the consumer they plan to sell to, and value the ideals of their clients.

Many companies are only capable of building a website or designing a logo and they do not address what ties it all together. That is what they know and that is what they sell. We work differently. We go far beyond mar-comm and creative services. We dive deeply into every aspect of the business to discover your unique obstacles and offer clarity and guidance toward the ideal results you want to achieve. You know what you want for your business. Select a partner who understands your needs and can help you realize your goals.