Beyond the Brochure, Your Website as Digital Collateral

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So many discussions about websites and a brand’s internet presence today center around applications and eCommerce. While more and more companies are moving toward this kind of online experience, sometimes you just need to get information out there about your company, such as: what you do, where you are, when you’re open, etc. We refer to this kind of website as “brochureware” – if you could hand somebody a trifold or a folder / binder at a meeting, convention, door-to-door, etc., what would it say about you?

Simple & Concise

Restaurants, for example, need to showcase their menu, their location, and their hours of operation. A manufacturer might want to talk about their equipment or capabilities, and the industries they cater to. A landscaping business or carpenter may want to showcase jobs they’ve done, while talking about the geographical area they serve and how to get in touch. The idea is to simply and concisely present the most important information a potential customer or client would need to see in order to choose you. That isn’t to say that these are cookie-cutter, static, one-size-fits-all websites. In fact, many of them have back-end code to allow the business owner to quickly and easily update menus, add new examples of work, or otherwise modify the information – but they are typically built in a simpler manner, utilizing lighter-weight content management systems, such as Expression Engine, WordPress, or others.

Architecting Your Information

What system is used and how the site is organized comes down to what we refer to as information architecture. More than just a site map or content outline, Grid works with our clients to determine not just what to say, but the relevance and priority in which it’s said. While content on the web is nowhere near as rigidly presented (page 2, 3, 4, etc.) as printed brochures, there is still something to be said about the order of information in your navigation, or top-to-bottom on the page. If you are a consumer-facing brick-and-mortar business, we will often suggest prioritizing contact information or your business address / directions. In the B2B sector, just like how you see many financial institutions making it easy to find their routing number online, manufacturing sites might prominently display a DUNS, GSA, FAA, etc., number or ID that they often receive calls or emails about. Going back to the “brochure” analogy, the website visitor should be able to see who you are, what you do, and how to get in touch (or visit, etc.) as quickly and easily as looking on the front and back of a brochure – and find more details about the “why” by opening it up and reading the inside pages.

Always Updating & Evolving

In the past, companies often thought of brochureware sites as one-and-done, just like a printed brochure – once it’s “designed” and sent to print, it’s not updated until the next round of printing. At Grid, we prefer to think of all websites as ever-evolving, and we tailor our solutions for clients large and small with this in mind. There are several benefits to updating the information on a website on a regular basis. Not the least, Google tends to reward websites with changing and growing information with better ranking in their search results. End-users tend to visit a site more than once before making a decision. Seeing new information reinforces with them that the company they are looking to buy from or partner with is growing, vibrant, or frankly, still doing business. As a consumer, would you want to go to a restaurant who still listed their Thanksgiving specials in May? Whether it’s adding press-releases or relevant industry articles, posting new case studies, or as simple as updating a menu, changing hours, or choosing seasonal imagery, thinking of your website as something flexible that grows and changes with you is important.

Presentation is Key

In addition to keeping the website up to date, it’s also crucial to be sure that it represents you well across the various devices and platforms that people are viewing it on. This is often referred to as “responsive design” – where a design and a site’s content are translated to be presented in the best way possible whether on mobile, tablet, or a desktop. We’ve all visited a restaurant site where you can’t read the phone number because it’s too small on mobile (or can’t click on it to call them because it’s a graphic, and coded poorly). As more and more people browse (and search) from mobile devices, this is something that isn’t just a “want-to-have” now, it’s a must-have. Even Google is rewarding mobile-friendly sites in their search results. This isn’t just important for consumer-facing sites. Even as far back as 2010, Forbes revealed that more than half of senior executives considered their mobile device as their primary. For B2B this could be as simple as a traveling executive finding contact information or an address for a meeting, or as mission-critical as narrowing down vendors based on capabilities. To underscore the importance, what if your medical practice now offered Sunday hours, but you found the office vacant because people viewing your website thought that you were closed? Or, imagine spending hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on a new piece of equipment to expand what you could do, only to see that equipment sit idle because your partners didn’t know you had it. Getting the word out where customers (and Google) can find it is critically important to the growth and sustainability of your business. If you are interested in having us evaluate your current website, need help moving it into a more responsive design, or are building your first site from scratch, reach out to Grid and let us help you establish an impactful presence on the web today!