You catch 'em, we kill 'em

Modern Web Trends = Bad business

, posted: 23-Jan-2016 12:36

As someone who develops sites for clients, I am always keeping an eye out for new trends, where is the market going, what new features are available that will benefit my clients - and also what new trends are happening that wont benefit my clients.

One of the negative trends I am seeing is a growing number of product driven web sites (for example selling password management software, selling hosted software, open source products) which do nothing to promote their product, and in many cases are a barrier to sales. The sites I am thinking of are pretty, clean, well designed, but totally miss the boat when it comes to purpose.

A web site must have a purpose, especially in business. What is it's job? Why is it there? How does it support the business. For a product driven website that purpose must certainly be to inform about the product, extol its virtues and make sales, either directly on line or via an invitation to buy.

Many sites now fail to do that. They are good looking, full of great images, have content - but the content fails to inform about the product. In many cases prices are not available. I know that if I am looking at two products, and one of them I can buy now and the other will end me up waiting on an (unwanted) phone call from sales staff when all I want to do is purchase, which product I will choose.

Here is a case in point:
Dashlane software comes pre-loaded on Acer laptops. It is an application that offers to manage all your passwords, across all devices, auto filling them in web browsers and storing them securely.  I know this because I visited their site. What is more I can tell you they employ 256bit AES encryption (the good stuff according to them) and even they or the NSA can see your stored passwords.
So far so good, their site seems to have done its job. But here comes the pinch. As a business owner I would like to share certain passwords across my IT support staff, other passwords across my accounts staff and obviously have a few of my own. The Dashlane site has a link that says business - excellent - I can go there, find out how this product will benefit me as a business person. Except I cant:
Issue One. Trendy look, misplaced use.
Some advertising consultant decided this image is a great image for enticing business users to use the product. Remember, this is your first impression when you click on Dashway's business link. If I was a trendily dressed, latte slurping, yuppy who spent his time in a cafe, this would appeal to me. I'm not. I'm a business man.

Most business people are not trendy young things and this image does nothing to sell me on a BUSINESS version of the product. In fact, there is nothing here to indicate business activity. Where are the indications of productivity, security, serious intent, collaboration, manageability etc ... that a business version of this product should offer?
 A good looking start but it's complete vapourware and doesn't support the page. All mouth and trousers - good looking vacuousness.
Issue Two. Good looking - probably fake testimonials, that doesn't say one word about business use.
This is a business page. The two things testimonials need to do are:
1 - Make me trust them and
The (fake?? [edit] these are fake - images from stock photos - see end of article ) testimonials are not from my peers - business people.
They invoke no sense of trust or response in me. There is no recognition of commonality with them. These are more good looking, trendy young things - without an ounce of business mana.
If they want to  appeal to me a sober business person, slightly grey of hair, who can use the product would go a long way. I want to hear from my peers.
2 - Explain how this would benefit my business.
Again not a business person or business use in sight. Is the product easy to deploy, is it inexpensive to run, is it stable, is it reliable, is the support awesome? Does it work for a business?
3 - No Information, No Facts, No Deployment Info, No Pricing
Nothing more to say here really. The buy now option leads to a sign up form - I don't think so - my spam box is already over filled and sales calls just rack me off - I want to buy not hear more trendy sales speak and BS.
4 - Bad References.

The clincher for me on this site was their link to a BBB Accredited business site link.

They have signed up - and have 20 supposedly resolved issues they have dealt with and very little positive feed back ( 22 issues, 7 positive responses). Also a B+ rating, immediately made me wonder why they weren't A rated? Turns out their phone mail boxes are full and you cant leave messages, their app fails on a number of platforms, updates break the app and ... the list goes on. Not a single - whoops we mucked up anywhere, just blame for the OS or other issues.
I've been through the entire site and other than a comparison of free features vs premium features I can find no reason to use the product in a business. Not one mention of how to mass deploy, manage, secure and wipe - but lots of info that their superb support(sic) really isn't.
Now this isn't a review of Dashlane, it's a comment on website trends. The trends more and more seem to be to have great looking sites (which is good), with lots of advertising speak (bad), fancy words that actually don't say anything (bad) and a complete lack of understanding of the purpose of each page / or the site's purpose. A triumph of style over substance. 
My advice.
1 - Identify your audience and make sure you appeal to them. Selling a home user product to a business person, using cafe slurping trendies  doesn't work.
2 - Make sure you put easily accessible information in place.
3 - Don't put barriers like sales forms in place of making sales - if you can sell online in one click do so. Amazon doesn't make you talk to sales staff. They just let you buy.
4 - Choose substance over style.

5 - Last and not least - don't lie to your audience. Using easily recognized stock photos in your testimonials is just plain dumb!!!

Other related posts:
Cloud services = bad for business
Penny wise, Pound Foolish - The Google Trap.

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Shane Hollis
New Zealand

Shane started Virusbusters twelve years ago to provide fixed price IT support for home users.

Daily battles through the world of viruses, spammers and other malware has left an indelible impression on him so he decided to try to give back some of the help he has received over time.

Hopefully crazy ideas, virus removal tips and other help can be found in this new blog. who knows, it might even be worth reading one day.