I Don’t Make Art, I Make Sales

There are two situations that make me nervous when clients want to redesign or rebuild their website: Clients want “a pretty site”. Make it look pretty they say. Clients spend hours looking for websites that already exist and want to copy their design. I understand why companies do this. People want pretty things and they don’t want to get through the painstaking process of defining goals, user interactions, and content before they start designing. But, that process ultimately creates value.   There are pretty sites that fail (don’t drive conversions). There are ugly sites that win (they drive engagement and conversions). Beauty is subjective, and what may look pretty may not be the most effective in helping people take key actions.   Take Craigslist for example. Craigslist may be one of the ugliest sites on the internet, and its appearance has been mostly unchanged since it was created. But, Craigslist is consistently ranked in the top 100 sites in terms of traffic. Now, I am sure a graphic designer could make Craigslist “pretty”. But, the real question is, why do it? Would it drive more engagement? It’s hard to believe it would. Craigslist has a bounce rate under 20% according to Alexa.com Craigslist has remained minimalist and action focused (filter & sort by location and category) since it’s inception. And, it’s worked very well for solving the problems of connecting buyers and sellers. Don’t let your graphic designer try to win an award at your business’s expense.   Let’s take a look at Amazon. Anyone with an eyeball would notice how cluttered Amazon’s pages are. But it works. Amazon is projected to have revenues...

Social Media and the Presidential Race

Ten republican hopefuls take the stage tonight for their first debate in New Hampshire. With the upcoming presidential election in mind, I decided to do a little social network research on Facebook. Here are a few things that I found. 1). Barack Obama has over 87,600 supporters on Facebook. He also has nine photos and some basic personal information posted on his profile. (education, personal interests, websites, etc.) 2). John McCain has over 3,000 supporters on Facebook. He also has basic personal information and 31 photos posted on his profile. He seems to use his profile more blatantly as a marketing tool than Barack Obama. For example, he has events posted for supporters to attend. Unlike Obama, Mccain’s profile isn’t written in first person so its easy to see that someone else is managing it for him. 3). There are tons of Anti-Hilary Clinton groups on Facebook, some with over 1,000 members. Also, Hilary Clinton does not have a profile on Facebook. The Big Deal: Social media allows major political hopefuls a chance to position themselves to the public and those that usually don’t turn out to vote, such as college-aged individuals. By utilizing social media and engaging constituents, a candidate can entrench an image of themselves among hard-to-reach groups. Also, social media provides a cheap, easy method for unlikely candidates to gain exposure and momentum. I wouldn’t be surprised if all potential candidates utilize social media throughout their long-lasting...

Great Products make Awareness and Sales Easier

If you read business publications and main stream media, you’re likely to stumble across an article featuring Apple. The surprising thing about the articles that are written is that many of them boast about Apple and its products in a positive light. Meanwhile, Microsoft seems to get slammed in most media mentions. This may come as a result of Microsoft’s decreasing customer satisfaction. I think the main reason this happens is because the Apple iPod dominates the portable music player market (72 percent as of Jan. 2007). I’d also argue that Apple’s recent wave of media placement is because of their growing popularity in the laptop market, rather than a result of great external communication. I’m not knocking Apple’s PR and marketing department, but rather giving a tip of the hat to their R&D department for making the iPhone in time to capitalize on built up momentum. However, how well will the Apple iPhone do considering it does not allow third-party applications that many early adopters and business consumers currently use to store information? I think the switching costs for this gadget will be too high for small business owners and older professionals that don’t have time to learn a new device, for a few added features. In addition to high switching costs, the iPhone ‘s capabilities are not unmatched throughout the world. In fact, consumers in Japan already have phones that can be used similar to a debit card to purchase rail passes and small consumer items (gum, cigarettes, candy, etc.). In addition, Nokia and Motorola look to compete heavily with Apple in the consolidated technology, mobile phone...