Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Fluevog, a shoemaker with stores in major US and Canadian cities, tells quite a story on the Web. Oddly, despite the print ad, the sprawling site has no link to the company’s anniversary, not even in the Flueseum—though if you drill down far enough, you’ll find a line of 40th anniversary reissued styles. And there’s a subtle little “40 Years” logo as sharp as the shoe’s toe. I guess they didn’t run with their anniversary because most of these shoes and boots, cool as they are, are better for walking. www.fluevog.com
Monday, December 20, 2010
For ten years Pumpkin, Inc., based in
OVERALL GRADE: C-minus
The first problem with this “About Us” page is that it’s quite difficult to find. It doesn’t appear on the top or left menus, only at the foot of the page, as “Company.”
This About Us page desperately needs--right at the beginning--a brief description in layman’s terms of the CubeSat, with a link for easy access to technical details.
In cutting-edge technology, company history provides some assurance of reliability. Hence this page should mention, for example, how long the company has been in business and how many CubeSats have been launched or are booked to launch. Testimonials about the product and a mention of some clients would also help. Since the Forbes article mentions several Cubesat customers, that information is no longer confidential.
Given the nature of the product, we’d also like to see more photos. Why not emphasize the scale and the do-it-yourself nature of the kit with photos of the kit and the finished product, and perhaps a household object such as a soda can to give a sense of scale?
Pumpkin’s “About Us” page is high on techno-speak, low on information “About Us.” We’d like to see some of the background from the Forbes article, particularly the education and career of the founder, Andrew Kalman, and his connection with Professor Robert Twiggs of Stanford, an innovator in nanosatellites. This information does appear elsewhere on the site--but given that visitors to websites have limited time and attention spans, we suggest a summary on this page, with a link to other pages on the site for those who want more information.
The “Contact Us” link at the foot of the page is helpful, but even better would be a final paragraph telling potential customers the next step: “To begin your CubeSat mission, email us (link), call xxxx, or fax xxxx.” Since the company has been covered in a national publication that may rouse further media interest, we’d add, “For media inquiries call xxxx.”
Most of the information that’s lacking on this page is presented elsewhere on the CubeSat site. But “About Us” is the page where a company can give potential customers the Big Picture: tell us what inspired the product, who developed it, how customers use it, what they say about it. On the “About Us” page, it’s not only acceptable to repeat fascinating information buried elsewhere on the site--it’s highly advisable.
Does your Web site’s “About Us” section accurately convey your organization’s history and capabilities? Every two weeks we evaluate one example, grading it in three areas that are key to potential customers: Personality (Who are you?), Products/Services (What can you do for us?), and Accessibility (How can we reach you?). Contact us if you’d like to have your site evaluated—there’s no charge and no obligation. Today’s example was chosen at random; CorporateHistory.net has no ties to this company.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Almost everything I know about speechwriting, in short or long form, I learned from Joan. Her seminars in Philadelphia are well worth attending. They've helped me not just with writing and speaking but with presenting and listening. Joan's 2011 schedule is at http://www.joandetz.com/.
Monday, December 6, 2010
You’d expect a high level of quality on the website of the LVMH Group (LVMH Moet-Hennessy - Louis Vuitton): it’s the world’s largest luxury-goods conglomerate, with over 60 brands ranging from fashion and jewelry to perfume, cosmetics, and wine. Among them are Fendi, Donna Karan, Givenchy,
OVERALL GRADE: A+
The brands owned by LVMH are famous for their quality. Under “LVMH Companies and Brands,” each is given a page to itself that includes a history emphasizing its distinctive character. The text is laid out well: an easily legible size, a manageable line length, with paragraphs and highlights that prevent the text from becoming a dauntingly solid block.
Given that we have to scroll to read the whole text of most of these descriptions, we love the “print” option directly below the description. Clicking it opens a new window in which the full text displays.
The visuals are perfectly chosen to convey the luxury and quality of each brand. Equally important for this type of product, the images are sized large enough to be seen and enjoyed--in fact, they’re given equal emphasis with the text.
Considering the number of brands within LVMH, we appreciate the fact that the navigation menu appears on the right side of every page, and that it even includes headings for LVMH’s philanthropic and environmental endeavors. Everything we might want to know is constantly available: no hitting the “back” button to get back to a page that offers all the options.
The stars on LVMH’s site are not the management or employees, but the separate brands. As noted, the brands are well represented in text and in images. But we also like the fact that the contents of each brand’s page are set within a frame that bears the LVMH logo--an understated, visual way of reminding us what group this brand is part of. What could be less obtrusive than classic black serif letters on pale gray? On that note, one tiny cavil: The light gray body text could stand to be a little darker, maybe even classic black.
The page for each brand includes, at the top, full name, mailing address, email, and website, all set off from the descriptive text by a simple graphic. When you click the “print” button, you automatically get all the contact information as well as the company description. No clicking on an extra link to reach a “Contact Us” page: what a relief!
It’s wonderful to see a site where every element of text and graphics conveys the company’s products and personality--not just competently but brilliantly.
Does your Web site’s “About Us” section accurately convey your organization’s history and capabilities? Every two weeks we evaluate one example, grading it in three areas that are key to potential customers: Personality (Who are you?), Products/Services (What can you do for us?), and Accessibility (How can we reach you?). Contact us if you’d like to have your site evaluated—there’s no charge and no obligation.
Today’s example was chosen at random; CorporateHistory.net has no ties to this company.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I always remember the words of a subsidiary head I interviewed for a book, a few months before Enron’s dirty dealings came to light. Let's call him X. “Enough of the widows-and-orphans stock mentality at this company. We’ve got to be more like Enron!” X declared. My recorder jumped as he pounded his desk for emphasis. I believe that "more like Enron” was simply his shorthand for “more innovative”—but X can only hope his transcript remains buried in his company's archives because his words could surely be used against him.
Funny, but after Enron self-destructed, X's company made its own financial stability and scandal-free history a subtle theme in its year-long centennial campaign. Suddenly it was a good thing (again) to be a widows-and-orphans stock with an unbroken record of paying dividends.