Designing for Your Customers – 2 Very Contrasting Brands

Take a step back and look at your website – how well does it reflect your brand?

There are many good examples of brands that translate their brand experience through to their website. And there are also a few examples of websites which are not pleasing to the eye and from the outside look a bit of a mess – that do bring their brand to life.

Let’s start off with a company that do a great job of communicating their brand through their website.

www.johnlewis.com

John Lewis is a British department store steeped in customer centricity and quality. You know when you’re in a John Lewis store. The clean and crisp feel of the store as you walk around, helpful, friendly staff and a wide range of quality products. Not the most affordable place but also not the most expensive. John Lewis has big brand advocacy with a loyal following, because they know John Lewis won’t let them down.

How do you translate this online? A clean and visually appealing website. Ease of navigation and simple but effective design. A friendly, helpful tone throughout the website and email. Features and functionality that improve the experience: easy to use faceted navigation for example. (go take a look for yourself)

Many internet marketers use John Lewis as benchmark for site design and usability, and rightly so. But what if your brand is a tad bit different? I mean, what if your ‘brand’ is the exact opposite? Eccentric, chaotic, wild, buzzing, non orthadox?

But my site is different!

So onto another site which does a great job of communicating its brand through its website. When I first saw the site I was appalled. I felt I’d been warped back to 1996 with crazy fonts and graphics. I felt completely lost on the site. I laughed and used the site as an example of not just bad website design and usability, but prohibited design and usability practice! A good example of how NOT to design a website.

Now let me tell you something about this site. It churns £millions a year (2005 figures – £10m+ in revenue). It too has a loyal following. Customers use it for some big ticket commitments. They like the humour across the site, but more importantly understand the honesty that LingsCars brings out through the humour. The site translates the business owners brand better than any web agency could have come up with. It’s brash, messy, confusing etc and did I mention I don’t like it?

How many colours can you spot?

www.lingscars.com

lingscars

lingscars.com

It appeals to its customers, it amuses, uses good persuasion techniques and is highly successful. Could it be improved? Indeed. But the art of Conversion Rate Optimisation, or CRO as commonly referenced, is not just about what looks good, it goes deeper than that. Understand who you’re selling to. Do they expect a John Lewis site experience on Lings Cars? If a clean and simple layout worked for everyone surely websites would look more uniform. They don’t. And I will again stress that I don’t like the user experience on LingsCars however what I do back is designing a website experience that is right for your customer.

Here’s a quote I found online from Ling herself: “Really, living in my web page means that when someone logs on, they are visiting my home. They really can have lunch, order a coffee and have a chat with me, wander around or relax, or just look at my car deals. I can’t find another business that has the same attitude about their web page; most are decided in a boardroom or committee. My web space really represents… me”.

How refreshing is that? The challenge for any big or medium-sized corporation is in pleasing those many stakeholders that have strong opinions on how the website should look and should be run. The bigger challenge is in giving control to those that are closest to your customers and to those that really know how a website should be run.

Depesh

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An Ode to Google – Reasons I love Boutiques.com

I recently tweeted Google’s Boutiques.com launch and a few hours later received a message from an old friend – she absolutely loved the site. My own impression of the site was good, but with my strong preference for menswear I couldn’t really get a feel for the site… so here is Janine Stein’s view and a good insight into how well boutiques.com worked for her…

fashion

fashionista

I love that the style options on the left hand side are real and easy to understand. (I am Casual Chic btw and not Romantic or Edgy or Street or Boho. I’m not Classic either)

I love that it’s not defined by age.

I love seeing how my style plays out in all kinds of ways (through the tabs just under the top line) from blogs to celebrities to retailers to recommended things.

I can imagine buying something quickly that I see and realize I need.

I love that it becomes almost like a website for fashion ideas just for my style.

I love that it recognizes that fashion isn’t just for some, but for all.

I wish there was a High street option for retailer.

I wish it was in the UK.

I wish there was more suggested combinations like the sets in Polyvore.com (which I love too)

I can see that I will spend hours playing here, and I will recommend to all my friends.

I love it because I need a site like this more than most, as I need all the help I can get style-wise.

Quite fascinating in my opinion, to see a whole new level of browsing experience, tailored to you. It’s all about you and what you want. Not what others want. I love Google’s innovation and it will be interesting to see how retailers react to this…

now go check out Janine Stein’s blog