Content Just Lost its Crown
To support our rapid growth, we recently went through the process of building a new and modern website for StrataPrime. I can be somewhat obsessed about details and how things fit together, so I was very hands-on throughout the design, content and build phases. To say that the process was enlightening, is an understatement.
My age group (early 40s) was arguably the first to truly leverage websites as part of a company’s marketing strategy and brand. As a generalisation, I’d venture to say that most of my age peers in the Consulting industry have a preconceived notion about what a website should look like and what kind of information it should contain. I’ll call it the traditional view. This approach is to slam as much deep content as possible into multiple pages and menu items. As part of the effort to create the new strataprime.com I came to believe that there is a better way, regardless of industry.
Today, I believe that the best websites tell a story about a business. Unfortunately, most websites, especially older established companies, are still filled with deep and wide content that visitors (let’s be honest) never take the time to read. Microsoft recently published a study indicating that Canadians have an attention span of about 8 seconds. All jokes about Canadians aside, there is no reason not to extrapolate that finding to all countries with a high level of mobile and Internet adoption. I advocate that this study and result should drive our thinking when creating website design and content. Let’s face it very few people are going to read a 10 page case study posted to a website five menu layers deep.
The first step in our website transformation was for the team to question our existing beliefs about how a website should look for a company whose primary business is Consulting and Services. This is not an easy task since old habits really do die hard. As part of the process, I spent a lot of time researching the websites of similar companies. My hope was that someone else in our industry had already reinvented this wheel. However, I quickly realized that the vast majority of our competitors have websites with an overwhelming number of menu items and an inordinate amount of deep content. There were no simple and compelling stories to be found and, arguably, no modern visual design.
Since I was not happy with what I was seeing, I decided to look outside of our industry. I turned to modern tech startups like Uber for inspiration. When contrasting what Uber has done versus what is typical in our industry, there is a deep and wide chasm in the approach to content, design and visualisation. Maybe that is how it should be because Uber is in a completely different line of business…but I question if that is a real excuse barrier. In the spirit of pushing our image as a new and modern company, I decided that our vision for a website should look more like Uber and less like IBM regardless of our industry.
Now that we had a vision for the look and feel of our new website, the next step was to think differently about content. We did this by using the Microsoft study as our primary guideline for content creation: small bites of information that can be quickly digested and absorbed. In essence we learned how to say more with less words. The team laboured over each word and went through countless revisions. In the end, we may not have achieved a perfect result, but we were true to our vision.
When it comes to modern website design, I believe in less content and more story. The story should be simple and written in a way that makes the company’s products and services compelling. For similar companies to StrataPrime, the real objective for a website is to have customers and prospects seek you out for a conversation. An interactive discussion is always a much better platform to discuss value proposition than a website.
We know there is still much work to do as we iterate our own website and make improvements. We also know that individual preferences are subjective and not everyone in our industry (or outside of it) will like a modern design or high-level targeted content. Regardless, StrataPrime will remain committed to a website built upon a modern design philosophy…even though we are in an industry some may call old.