EJM Designs Limited Blog

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Trouble With "Vision"

I've been doing a lot of work recently with my own business (see sidebar) and in that work, I invariably come across both direct (web design, SEO, search marketing, social marketing) and indirect (general marketing and public relations) companies and their web presences.

Most of their sites are straightforward and professional enough to keep a browser's interest, providing the necessary information about what they do and how to contact them. However, there are a couple of common items I continue to run into that are just not good design/business.

V a g u e n e s s . . .
Maybe I missed the memo. Maybe nebulous ideas of what you actually do, descriptions rife with ideals and forms but no concrete language is what is of the moment. But I don't believe it. That's the trouble with "vision." Sure, it's necessary to have a mission statement, great to have a vision statement. But to format your web copy (you know, that primary - potentially only - contact point your potential client) on vague thoughts and non-targeted language could seriously be hurting you.

Then again, I can guarantee there are those consumers out there that eat that up. Not sure how to address those folks.

Mystery Bag O' Image Fun
If you use significant images to represent different aspects of your business then for the love of all things holy please make it intuitive. Or put labels on the images. The idea of a landing page with various, un-labeled images that represent varied and anomalous things or change on mouseover to reveal a "Hey, that's what I'm looking for!" label was tired after fifteen minutes at some indeterminate time in 2002.

People don't want to have to think too hard. Make them think about what they would like to find on your site, not figure out the puzzle of your layout scheme.

SO Out of the Box
So you want to go "out of the box" and have designed your website with a unique layout unlike any other. I commend you. But is it usable? If I want to do a quick two clicks to find out if you even provide web design, is it like solving the day's Sudoku puzzle in the paper to get to that revelation?

There are definitive conventions of web design that - while not entirely sexy - are conventions for a reason. Try to keep that in mind. I repeat: People don't want to have to think too hard. Make them think about what they would like to find on your site, not figure out the puzzle of your layout scheme.

Innovation and vision are good things in business and marketing. But people are on such a limited time schedule - and sickeningly low attention span - that it's the quick nuts and bolts that should be straightforward. If you want visitors to see your vision, put together a vision statement page with a prominent link. The fewer things potential clients have to think/worry about when visiting your site, the more follow-through you'll get.

Would you rather a low percentage contact you as to your exact services or a medium to high percentage contact you on details and pricing for what you obviously do?

So what are your thoughts? Is this something you've noticed? Is it okay? What do you want to see on the websites of service providers?

Comments always welcome.

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