When I used to edit an engineering magazine, it was always amusing to spot the adverts being submitted which clearly had been designed by committee – or worse, by an edict from a Managing Director who knew nothing about marketing. They weren’t difficult to spot. The problem is that despite the creation of effective advertising being a genuine skill, everyone thinks they can do it. If the chairman looks over the development engineer’s shoulder at a circuit board, he’s unlikely to comment on the solder pad dimensions. But if he’s wandering through the marketing department, you can be sure you’re soon going to have to make the logo bigger.
When it comes to the company website, the situation is far worse than it ever was for display adverts. There’s far more science involved in designing a good website, because there’s far more data available about the user reaction …but that doesn’t stop everyone wanting to have their say in what the website looks like. Normally on a hunch. And despite larger companies having bigger and more specialist marketing experts than smaller ones, it’s in the larger companies where the website is more likely to be designed – and compromised – by committee. A company might sell ten times as many red widgets as blue ones, at a hundred times the profit, but if the website was designed by a committee including the sales managers of both the red and the blue widget divisions, you can be sure visitors are going to see the unloved blue widgets first, because the products will be presented in alphabetical order so as not to upset anyone.
Your website is not a corporate plaything. It’s the most important selling tool you have. It should be designed with the same sort of care and research that goes into your company’s products. Great websites are built by people who listen to internal feedback, but always have the nerve to ask “why?” and then not take “because I think so” as an answer.