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We often come across healthy (and sometimes unhealthy) competition between Sales and Marketing for control of the website. The usual conflict is that Sales want to make sales and Marketing want to build brand and gather data. It’s up to the business to decide which is the priority. The problem comes when sales are the objective but marketing are still allowed unfettered ‘creative’ control. There is an overwhelming desire to do something different; to make the site stand out from the crowd. This can lead the designer to build a site that doesn’t follow accepted web paradigms.

Let me illustrate with an example I came across this weekend. It’s my job to organise the pub ski trip in 2016. I Googled lots of sites offering chalets in our chosen resort. We want exclusive use of one with around 14 beds and none of the sites had an ‘exclusive availability’ filter so I had to contact them. Pretty easy – ‘Contact Us’ is normally on the end of the main menu or is a link in the footer of the page. Except the site illustrated here appeared not to have a link in any of the usual places. I was about to give up on them but as I am a ‘power user’ and piqued by my failure to find the link I persisted. I found it eventually on a stylised piste marker that was part of the header image. Very clever and good visual design but nearly unusable; how much business have they lost because of people giving up and moving on?

Now it is possible to use different paradigms because humans can learn. Think of the Renault cars with no manual hand brake; we get used to them even though we can still be found with our arm flapping around between the seats trying to do a hill start under pressure. In this case though, we have made our choice and are prepared to learn. The same can be said of a subscription website where we pay and are prepared to learn any quirks they have. However, where the user has choice they will opt for the site they understand. Steve Krug’s excellent book Don’t Make Me Think has much more on this important subject.

If the objective for the site is sales, make sure the marketing input is aligned with this aim and don’t build a sales prevention site by departing from the accepted norms on the web.

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