Sports Car

Looking good isn’t good enough just like this car won’t work for a family. Make sure your website looks good, but functions even better.

I just got a call from an aviation parts distributor unhappy with their website.

They spent quite a bit of money redesigning the site, but had not noticed an appreciable increase in traffic or inquiries. Even worse, when the company president went to show a customer the website on his iPad, the only thing that came up was a blank rectangle.

“On the laptop, the website certainly looked great!” commented the president. I agreed the site was well-done – nice graphics, animation, and photography, but unfortunately, it was created in Flash, which as you may know, is not supported by Apple’s iPhone or iPad. (More about Flash later.)

This particular company’s website was a delight to look at. The whole focus was to make a dazzling impression at first glance, but just like a Lamborghini may look great in your garage, it’s not the ideal car for stop-and-go commuting.

Function Over Beauty:  Websites Need to do More than Just Look Good

Your website should be built only after a comprehensive audit and analysis has been done. There should be clear objectives of what you want your website to accomplish and how it should do it.

Some basic considerations are:

  • Attracting visitors. This may include search engine optimization, advertising, social media, email marketing, etc.
  • Deliver a compelling sales message. How are you different or better than your competitors and why they should buy from you?
  • Answer frequently asked questions. Information that provides clear answers to likely questions about your products or services.
  • Establish credibility. Information, sources, media, and testimonials that establish your credentials, authority and reliability of your business, products, or services.
  • Ability to collect information. A means to collect basic contact information from potential customers – a free newsletter, report, or some other incentive to provide contact information.

Additional features for your website:

  • E-commerce capability. Provide an easy and intuitive way for customers to purchase products or services.
  • Customer service. Provide ways for existing customers, for instructions, answers to questions, a forum, support, etc.
  • Reasons for customers to keep coming back. Provide additional information of interest to your customers, a blog with comments, a referral or incentive program, or another means of staying connected after the sale.

Once you have the basics done, you can work on the design. Trade the dazzling and stunning for a website that works.

See Paula Williams’ post about websites that don’t sell

Steve Jobs vs Adobe’s Flash

Steve Jobs took a big gamble by when he chose to not support Adobe’s Flash technology.

“Flash is a spaghetti-ball piece of technology that has lousy performance and really bad security problems,” Jobs said, according to biographer Walter Isaacson.

R.I.R. and Flash

Steve Jobs was right.

Under Jobs, the iPhone became the industry’s leading smartphone and the iPad emerged to virtually dominate the tablet market. While more phones run Google’s Android software (many of them promoting their Flash compatibility), no products captured the public’s imagination and attention, quite like the iPhone.

So when Jobs blasted Adobe’s Flash technology, people listened. He called it “buggy,” a battery hog, and a product created by lazy developers.

“Allowing Flash to be ported across platforms means things get dumbed down to the lowest common denominator,” Jobs said, according to Isaacson. “We spend lots of effort to make our platform better and the developer doesn’t get any benefit if Adobe only works with functions that every platform has.”

Although Jobs did not live to see it, he was vindicated in his assessment as Adobe announced in November following his death, that Adobe will abandoned its Flash initiative for mobile devices.

Apple put its support behind HTML5 as the preferred web platform to provide multimedia experience on smartphones and tablets, insisting it provides the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms. Apple’s support is a big reason why HTML5 now universally supported on most major mobile devices.

Steve Jobs was confident in his decision then, and vindicated in his decision not to support the ubiquitous Adobe Flash. Now the rest of us mere technological mortals know full well, Jobs was right. And as always, his goal was function and design, and not forfeit one for the other.