Helping visitors get to the stuff at the bottom

In an age where far more customers see a company’s product range on its website than in a paper catalogue, it’s amazing how many websites have been designed to follow the linear format of a catalogue. The flexibility of a website offers so many advantages which are still wasted.

It’s an odd thing that the paper catalogue can give readers a quicker overview of the company’s products than a website manages. Flick through the pages in five seconds and you have a good idea of the range available. It’s tricky to do this with a website, and many fail miserably. But what a catalogue can’t do is to ask a prospect what their application is, and present a relevant selection of products as a result. This is a degree of personalisation that a paper catalogue can only dream of. I remember working for one company which produced half a dozen versions of each catalogue, each targeted at a different sector but with many products appearing in every one. A huge expense and effort, to achieve what a website offers by default, if its designers choose.

The challenge for any industrial manufacturer is to get over the breadth of its offering at a glance, but then to immediately personalise the site to the visitor’s needs. Having a pyramid structure is fine, but that shouldn’t be the main route to get to the stuff at the bottom.