Today on the Edge of Innovation, we sit down and critique a website together.

Show Notes

Granite Properties
Emails From A CEO Who Just Has A Few Changes To The Website

Transcript

Sections

Optimizing Space for Clarity
A Defunct Camera Feed
You and I
Held Back
Too Many Pictures
Latest?
Too Much Effort, Too Many Words
Video
Social Media
Mobile
Ideas for Improvement

Introduction

 

Jacob: Today, it is Paul, myself, Jacob, and Steve here in the recording studio to look at websites today. We’re going to be reviewing websites and talking about what’s good and what can be improved with them, and not only doing the front end look at them, but also the technical backend of the website. So, Paul, would you introduce us to the website we’re looking at today?

Paul: Well, sure. First of all, the other day, I had this thought, where we would be able to sort of deconstruct a website live before millions of our studio audience. And so, we’re recording this on video and if you’re driving, you should be watching the video at the same time. But if you, if you don’t have the video now, you can look at that in our show notes. But basically, we’re going to take different websites and deconstruct them — say what’s good, what’s bad, and what we would do differently. And we encourage you guys to send in websites for us to look at.

Our first one is www.graniteprop.com. And it’s a real estate investment, property management, and leasing advisory services website. So… As Jacob said, we have Jacob as our host today, myself, Paul Parisi, and Steve Miller who is of… He, he was on our Pokémon team, Pokémon Go team, but that has since dwindled in popularity.

Steve: The hype has died.

Paul: The hype has died, and so he moved out of that system and…

Jacob: The reality is his data plan got maxed out.

Paul: That’s right. Exactly.

Jacob: So, Paul, could you kind of give us a rundown of just kind of like the basics of this website? And then I think Steve is going to give us a few of the technical ideas of what’s going on here.

Optimizing Space for Clarity

Paul: Sure. First of all, one of the things you want to look at when you’re looking at any website is how much vertical space you use before you get to interesting content. I’m looking at a fairly high resolution screen, in the recording you’ll see. But you’ll see, really, the upper third is dedicated to a changing black and white picture with a tagline on the side, “Granite Properties, inspiring people to flourish through the places we create,” which I think we found was their… Is it their vision or mission statement?

Jacob: I believe that’s their purpose statement. And we kind of had to dig around in the “About Us” section. We’ll get there.

Paul: Right. And, you know, there’s a lot of words on here. And there’s some rotating graphics and things like that. And up at the top left, we’re going to jump right into this. There’s a really cool thing that says, “View our live construction camera feeds!” So, you know, you could, you could click on that and imagine that they’re a construction company, or read that. But they’re really not. They look like… I mean, they say real estate investment property management and leasing advisory services. But yet, when you start to dig into the site, it looks like they have a bunch of properties that they lease. So they are a company that holds, you know, a big office building and will lease that to people. I’m just guessing based on what it says on their website.

Jacob: Right. So, it’s not clear whether they refurb or do construction or do leasing. It’s probably the latter.

Paul: Well, but yeah. But they’ve got a construction. So, I think they’re doing… You know, like we’re in New England, so there’s a lot of different sites that have been old mill buildings and things that have been redone and reborn as beautiful apartments or condos or office buildings. And so, maybe they’re doing something like that.

A Defunct Camera Feed

But I’m just going to click on this to show you, our viewers at home, that when I go to camera one, I see a wall, a corner of a wall. It looks like an outlet in the wall and some sort of flashing light, alien…signaling aliens or something like that. It’s, it’s sort of scary. And I can choose camera two and all of the other ones — camera two through however many camera 64 — are all, say, stealth monitoring.

And, you know, this is to me, is not a great testimony here.

Steve: This feels like, you know, like CSI. Like someone stumbles on a website and they catch a murder on accident on this camera. That’s what I was thinking of when I first saw it. Then I realized the purpose of it. But…

You and I

Paul: So, well, I’m not really sure what the purpose of it is, because, you know, it doesn’t show any construction cranes or people putting up walls or putting in carpet or something like that. And it’s taking up what might be the most valuable real estate on the website, the top left corner. You know, English speaker right from left to right. And then we’ve got Granite over on the right hand side and down a bit, you know. And then they’ve got a 2015 award for best, small, and medium workplaces, which is great, but one of the things, a good friend of mine who’s a serial entrepreneur, started 26 companies, says, “When you write an email or a letter, you want to count the number of I’s and the number of you’s and the number of you’s should be at least twice the number of I’s.

Jacob: Right.

Steve: That’s good.

Paul: And this doesn’t say that. It says, you know, “View our live construction camera feed.” “We’re the best place to work.” You know, so it’s like, “Well, what’s in it for me?” That’s what I really look at, you know. And so, if we, if we click “About Us” as we sort of dive into this…

Jacob: Yeah. I did a website review for somebody one time, and I counted up the number of “our” pronouns on it, and there was, on every page within the footer and header, 16 “ours.” And I was like, “Guys, nobody cares about you as much as you do.”

Paul: They do. That’s correct. So, you know, jumping into “About Us,” it is, again, the re— reiterating this — I don’t know —  they’re “creating exceptional work environments.” And so, does that mean that they come in a design a building for a company? You know, like GE is moving into Boston from Connecticut. Would this be a company you would call that would be, you know, the architectural firm to do that? I don’t, I don’t think it is. But I’m saying that wording would evoke that to me. So we can dig through all of these, but I’d like to take sort of a pause and talk about some of the technical aspects that are hidden to the ordinary eye. We’ve run a bunch of our tools on this from…in Google site speed. What is it?

Held Back

Steve: Google PageSpeed Insights.

Paul: Yeah, really very interesting things that are going on. So, Steve, why don’t you summarize some of those?

Steve: Yeah, so, unfortunately, the website ranks rather low on PageSpeed currently.

Paul: What is it?

Steve: It’s 40 out of 100. And just for context for our viewers, it’s tough to fight PageSpeed. They’re really, they’re really hard on you. But you’re…95 is super well respected, and 80 is kind of necessary at this point to get a good rank.

Paul: It’s sort of like a grade in high school. I mean, an 80 would be a B.

Steve: That’s a good point.

Paul: You know, and an A+, A, would be in the 90s. What is it again? A 40?

Steve: It’s a 40. Yeah.

Jacob: So, they would be repeating the grade.

Paul: You’d have the repeat the grade, yeah.

Steve: This website has been stuck in 9th grade for a while.

Paul: Right. Okay. So, that’s now, what that’s measuring is how quickly that site will display on an average connection. So, all of the different things that are required to render that site before it shows up and be usable, it’s getting a 40 out of 100, which isn’t good. It needs to be improved.

Steve: What do they look for? Isn’t it like 200 milliseconds before the server responds?

Paul: Yeah.

Steve: Like, when you say, “Hey, server, I’m coming to your website. Start sending me stuff.” It expects a 200 millisecond turnaround. Unfortunately, this site, so before it even starts loading, it says the server responded in 2.5 seconds. So, that’s like a year or two in internet time.

Paul: Sure. It absolutely is, because people, at about three seconds, are going to shut you down. Two seconds is really for the… The page has to be fully loaded, fully rendered in less than two seconds. So, now, if we were to look at that, technically, what’s the problem here? They are on a slow server, basically, or the server is badly misconfigured. So, go ahead. You had some other statistics.

Steve: Navigating back to the PageSpeed Insights here. Now, I don’t know…I do know who’s hosting them. It’s a smaller host, but I’m guessing that they’re missing some basic things they could do. I believe that they’re running a WordPress site, from what I can tell. And they don’t have most of their files are not compressed, basically, on their server. And also, their scripts are not minified. So, with script, you can take out spaces, unnecessary spaces and returns to be able to save space on the load. And it doesn’t look like any of that has been done with this website, which is unfortunate. That hurts page load time and credibility in Google’s eyes.

Too Many Pictures

Paul: When I loaded the page for the first time, I noticed that there was a picture on one of the pages, I think the “About Us.” And that picture sort of loaded and unrolled like a window shade, slowly. I could see it sort of draw. What that indicates, is that you’re using a very large picture, but telling it to render in a small space. So, instead of, you’re taking an enlargement, if you will, from the old days, and putting it into a snapshot or a wallet size. And so a lot more pixels and bits have to be transferred for it to display. So, just simply sizing the images to the appropriate size would improve the performance and feel of the site greatly.

So, go ahead now. What else?

Steve: Absolutely. It looks like some… For images and for scripts, there is also browser caching is not specified. So, there’s nothing communicating to the browser saying, “Hey, store this file for a certain amount of time to be able to load it faster if a client or an employee comes back to the site.” Caching can be used, basically, to store things locally on the machine, and that way, it can load certain things faster and have a better experience once you come back to the site.

Latest?

Paul: Right. So, it doesn’t have to load them, because it already has it. It’s cached it. One of the other things we’d like to do in looking at sites — we’ll get into more technical things here — is there is a news area. And if you look at the news area, the last news item… Right now, it is August…no, almost August. July 2016. And the latest news item is July 2015. So, it’s a year old. So, that doesn’t speak well of what’s going on. I mean…

Jacob: Not the mention that the one before that is almost another year behind that. So, the last two news items are from the last two years.

Paul: Right. Yeah. And if you look at it, so they had one in January 2014, two in January, one in February, one in August, one in September, and then we jump to 07/2015. So there may or may not be news, but that doesn’t give a consumer or a buyer a feeling that this… You might ask, “Are they still in business?”

Steve: Yeah. I was actually just about to search that, whether they are still in business, because the site has been so little updated. The latest update I can find is that news. I looked at archive.org to see any site changes. Maybe a couple of pictures have been moved around. No code has been modified in a while. It’s, it’s a really… It’s been dead in the water for over the last year.

Paul: Right. So, now one of the other things that, when you put your site out there, you want people to find it. You want them to comment on it. You want to engage with that. You want people to be able to say, “Hey. I found something interesting on here.” And we use Twitter and Facebook and maybe even YouTube for that to socialize things. They do have Twitter and Facebook, but it’s at the bottom right, as you scroll down as far as you can get. And so, you know, I would really want to sit down with this organization and say, “What’s your goal of the website? What’s the purpose of it? Is it to sort of cement a brand identity so that people can feel good that you’re in business and you’re here to stay?” Well, this really doesn’t do it with the news issues that we’ve talked about. It doesn’t do it with the speed.

You know, and so there’s some concerns there. The “Contact Us” page, on the other hand, is pretty good. It’s very clear. I might make the text a little bigger. It’s a little bit hard to read. You know, a little friendlier, especially the phone number. But that’s nice. You know, I can get all of their major offices, all of that. I might also go in here and have a contact form, you know. That’s not there now. So what you’re forcing me to do is pick up the phone or email somebody. And if I email Greg in Plano, I might… It might have to go to somebody in California. Now, they can forward it and all that, but I would expect a form to deal with all of that.

Too Much Effort, Too Many Words

Jacob: Yeah. You want to reduce the amount of effort that you’re requiring of your user. And by requiring them to open up their email, type out an email, do something outside of the window that you already have them in is bad user design. And it potentially loses your business, because it requires them to do extra work.

Paul: Right. Yeah. Every click that somebody has to decide to do reduces the effectiveness 50% approximately. And so, as you, as you look at this site, you know, the “About Us” page has — and I’m clicking on it — and you can see the delay in it. It has six sub categories. So it looks like there’s a lot of, a lot of depth to it. But it’s slow, you know. It’s slow to get in here. I click on “Expertise.” I’ve got another six subcategories. “Properties” — when I go into properties, I have a nice, you know, extruded map and I can click on Atlanta, and I can load this. It’s very slow. And it shows me a nice robin’s egg blue area, which happens to be the middle of the ocean. If I drag this over, you find out that you’re… Well, let’s zoom out actually. Yeah, so here we are. We’re right in the middle of the open, super zoomed in, which, you know, I think it would be better to, you know, really be looking at the Atlanta area with all of the different icons just around there. That would be certainly more effective than what it is.

So, what’s interesting to me is they’ve obviously put some money and effort into building this and launched it at some point. I don’t know what the copyright date at the bottom was.

Jacob: I didn’t see a copyright on the bottom.

Steve: It’s been about the same. I was digging through archives. It’s been about the same for a year or two at this point. They’ve been on the web for a while actually, which is interesting. They go back to ’99.

Paul: Okay. So they see some value in a website. But yet they’ve got all these broken things. Or, you know, things that aren’t really thought through. And one of the things that we notice, as consultants in this area, is people are just too close to it. And they overlook it. They filter it. It’s like, you know, you don’t see the things in your own house that you out of place, because you’re just used to that. And so, having somebody come in that’s detached from it, and you could say, “What do you mean here? What do you hope to get?”

And also, you know, to be, to be frank, I think there’s a lot… There’s too many words.

Jacob: Yeah. I think they do. It’s poor space management on the website, because, I mean, you come to the website, and the first thing you’re drawn to is the top section. And what you see in the top section is this video camera icon that is not really… It’s not clear what it’s helping to bring you into and what story it’s telling you. And then you have these kind of randomized pictures. I’m not sure. Are these the owners, the board members, the employees? Are these customers? What’s the relationship between these people and what you’re actually trying to bring me into. And then, it’s poor space utilization with the purpose statement, because if that’s your purpose statement, you want everybody to get that nice, big, and bold, right up front. And it’s a bit kind of subdued.

Paul: Yeah. I’d say it’s very passive.

Jacob: And the colors reinforce the passiveness. I mean, in terms of website design and psychology, blue engenders trust, which is good for somebody that’s doing property management. You want that to be a subliminal message. But the blue is almost a bit too understated to where it’s a bit passive.

Paul: Yeah. And it’s also contrasted with this red over on the right, the “Great Place to Work.” So, it’s sort of like, am I…? Is trust the most important? But then I’m distracted by “It’s a
Great Place to Work,” as opposed to what do I want as a business owner. That’s great that it’s a great place to work, and that’s a good thing. And that means that the people that are going to do services for me and deliver the product are going to be happy about it. But what are you guys actually doing for me?

Jacob: Right. It probably communicates company stability for the long haul. But in terms of the immediate, first 30 seconds of the website, or first 10 seconds of the website, you’re trying to pitch somebody that you can do investment and leasing property management and leasing best, rather than a company that has good services for their employees.

Video

Paul: Right. And it’s striking me here that there’s no video either. Now, video is a leading, a leading idea. So, if they did this a year ago, they might not have thought about this. But I’ve got to think that some of the principles in this company can be compelling in why you should use them. And I think that’s a critical thing to get them to do in a small, short 15 second video. Or a video of some of their clients, you know, to say, “We were struggling with this, this, and this, and Granite came in and fixed it, you know, and gave us this solution.” I just think that would be overwhelmingly positive. And those things get socialized, as well.

Steve: You know, what’s interesting is, so this is a small to medium business. I’m just… As I look through things, I can’t predict everything that’s going on with them, but they’re… If you look at their, the Fortune Review that talks about them being a good small-to-medium business, their employee to revenue ration, I mean, they’re making a lot of money. And it looks like, as I look through news articles, they’re pretty reputable in the industry. They’re building important things on a regular basis.

What strikes me is it’s possible that they think, “Okay, well we’re making good business. Why would I improve my website?” But, you know, it’s funny. I was talking to one of our clients the other day, and I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but he looked at me and he said, “You know, if someone comes to your company and asks you guys, ‘Do you want more business?’ Are you going to say no? Are you full up? Or do you have room make more money?”

I’m like, “Well, we would say yes. All the time. We’re there to make money. We’d hire more people if more people came.”

And so, I think that it’s possible that in the web area, they’re sitting contentedly on what they have. They say, “We make a lot of money. We’re well-known in the industry. Why would we need a better website?”

It’s like, “Well, you don’t know who you’re missing by investing in the website.” And the web is an easy, outward marketing tool, honestly. They could be making more money. I don’t, I don’t know enough about the industry to say what it could enhance. But they might be sitting on an easy resource here.

Jacob: And their website could utilize them to be a more established expert in the arena. From the look of their website at face value, to me it does not strike me that they would be an expert that, are example, I would want to invite to be a keynote speaker at a conference or something about this sort of issue.

Paul: Well, certainly not by the website. It would have to be some relationship you had external to this website.

Jacob: And the unfortunate thing is that, are example, if I were in the audience of somebody that were speaking from this company, and I went to their website, I would… There would be a very severe disconnect, because I’m sure that their employees and their leaders in the company are highly competent, highly established and highly knowledgeable in their area of expertise. Their website does not back up what I’m sure is the truth about them.

Social Media

Paul: So now, I’ve sort of transitioned just to their Twitter page. They’ve got 1800 followers, which is phenomenal.

Jacob: Yeah. I saw that.

Paul: They’ve got 629 likes and they’ve got tweets as late as July 18th. So, somebody is tweeting. July 18th, July 13th…

Jacob: Yeah. I find that interesting, that somehow there’s a disconnect between their news feature on their website and their news feature, or their Twitter feed.

Paul: Sure. I mean, they should be co-mingled at worst, you know. So, I mean, at least put the tweets in the newsfeed. So let’s go back to the, to the site, to some of the more, you had said, Steve, and you did some analysis. It’s an older version of WordPress that should upgraded or…?

Steve: Yeah. We had a little discussion beforehand. We were like, should we discuss this? You know, it’s an old enough version that there are security liabilities. But then we said, you know, it took me 30 seconds to… I didn’t know off the top of head how to see the version of WordPress, and it took me 30 seconds to Google how do I see this. Okay, I found it. Okay, I found the security liability. So, I’m not worried about throwing it out there, just generally.

And that’s, that’s a concerning thing for your business. I don’t know what important information they might have stored on this. There’s, you know…

Paul: Or it might be defaced and reputation suffers and things like that. And you know, so we were… As we were talking about it, it was, you know, should we say this? Well, all the bots out there that go and seek to destroy websites will crawl this site whether we tell you it’s you know, WordPress 1.0 or WordPress 4.0.

Steve: Well, the bots listen to our podcast…

Paul: That’s true. I forgot about that. So the bots have already found it. And you know, there are some exploits. You’re, you know, you don’t seem to have some of the more exploitable things enabled, such as comments and things like that, which is great. But again, you know, it’s something that… You know, there’s a lot of business owners who want to buy a website and be done. And that is just not the way the world works anymore. I mean, it doesn’t.

Jacob: About every 18-24 months, you need to be updating your website.

Paul: Well, absolutely. I mean, that, that’s critical. But I think what’s even more important is you really have to come to terms with maintaining it — putting news in, putting things that change. I mean, if you went to the store, you know — and you think of the old stores that had window dressing — and they always had the same display there, you would eventually not see it anymore. And so a website is very much like that. You want the new model to be displayed. That’s why they come up with new cars every year, you know. Not because we need them. But because people’s interest wane. And that’s critical.

Jacob: So, that would either mean that we are trying to encourage people, by that specific point, to have somebody on staff in the company who does it? Or for example, hire us at SaviorLabs to be able to manage their website for them?

Paul: Well, I think there’s—

Steve: Promo plugin.

Paul: I think there’s a lot of different ways to think about that. The problem is, is that you need such a broad spectrum of skills. It’s rare to find them in one person. And if you are able to find them in one person, you’re probably not going to want to pay them the amount that they’re worth or enough to keep them over time. I think more so, one of the things I always, I joke about is, you know, why don’t the schools and the towns schedule for maintenance, budget for maintenance on their buildings. Because they know that in 30 years, they’re going to have to build a new school. So, why don’t they save 1/30th of the amount every year, you know. Put in an amount, and at 30 years, oh, we’ve got the money in the bank. Sounds logical. It sounds like, you know, what we should do. You know, in New England you have to replace your roof every 25 years. And if a roof is $20,000, you save 1/25th of that.

Well, that’s discipline. But in business, we actually do that. We plan for capital expenditures. We plan for budgets, things like that. And I think the website has to have a line item. It might be under the marketing department. But it has to be something you’re committing to. You know, we frequently meet with people, and we sort of ask them this question — “Are you planning to stay in business? Or are you just in this for the next six months or whatever?”

And it takes them aback. It’s like, “Well, yeah. We really are trying to stay in business.”

“Okay. So, what are you going to do about that? You know, are you going to invest in technology? Are you going to invest in websites, etc., etc.?”

So, those are the kind of things that I think are critical. So, you asked, “Do I hire somebody?” The problem with hiring somebody is that that expertise can walk out the door at any time. In the best case scenario, you know, you got somebody. They want to move. You know, there’s no animosity. They’re just moving somewhere. So that gets difficult. Well, we could hire them remotely, etc. And, and, there are a lot of people that work that way. There are lots of organizations like SaviorLabs that are out there to help you do that to hold you accountable, and also, I think, more importantly the difference is, if you hire an internal person, they’re an internal person. They view it with the mindset of your company. If you hire an outside person, they’re bringing in… It’s like, “Well, why in the world would I want to do business with you?” That’s a great question to ask, because if the website doesn’t answer that, there is much less likelihood it’s going to convert people.

And, and one of the other things that, you know, just to be very clear here, if we look at this website, there’s no call to action. You know, there is nothing saying to the user, to the visitor, “This is what we want you to do here.” And so, when you plan for no results…what is it? When you plan…

Steve: When you don’t plan, you don’t get anything?

Paul: Yeah. You know. Planning to… If you don’t plan to succeed, you’ll…

Steve: You’ll try, try again?

Paul: Yeah. Fail if you…

Steve: You’ll fail if you try?

Paul: You fail to plan, you plan to fail. You know.

Jacob: That’s what it is. If you don’t plan to quote the quote, then you’re going to mess up the quote.

Paul: If you don’t plan… If you plan to… If you don’t plan to fail, you fail to plan? I don’t know.

Mobile

Jacob: So, one of the dynamics that we were noticing on the website is the mobile accessibility, the mobile version.

Paul: Well, there’s two things with that, we noticed. One is we made the browser smaller. I don’t know if this will work with, Google Hangouts. No, it won’t. Let me take it out of zoom. And I’m going to go and make the browser smaller. And you’ll notice it’s not responsive. It doesn’t respond or change size based on the browser window. So, that’s one thing that is sort of silly.

So, if you open it up and you make it smaller, it doesn’t re— reform to look good. But if you open it up on an iPhone or an Android device, you get a completely different site with a colorful menu that says, you know, a big building, a picture that says “Granite” underneath it, and then five bands of color “About.” And I click on “About” and I go to a basically blank white page that says, “Our Purpose.” And no navigation, nothing.

So, now I have to go back. So they probably got sold a mobile version of a website by some person that came in and said, “We can do a mobile version of your website to convert a few pages.”

Jacob: Or, sometimes I’ve seen where people just have like a plugin that you put on your website that basically kind of strips it down to like the bare essentials of like 10% of the website. And it makes it a mobile version.

Paul: And that’s not great. I mean, this is not going to make somebody think… If you were to judge Granite by their mobile website, you would not have as good of an experience or judgement as the desktop website.

Jacob: Right. And not to mention that, I mean, in terms of finding a solution, this sort of thing is super easy to do. I mean, in terms of making a mobile website, it’s a big phenomenal to me that there’s “mobile” versions of websites today when it’s so easy.

Paul: Well, I don’t know that it’s easy. You have to think through how things rearrange and so, you know, if you’ve just finished a website and somebody comes to you and says, “Hey, it doesn’t work on a mobile phone.” And you’re like, “Oh, man. We just thought that was done.”

And that’s the thing I think, you know, I was hinting at earlier is the people were thinking, “This is done.” Now, okay, we know we just talked about mobile and all that, but I’d want to say, “How long is it done for, you know? Is it done for 18 months?” And if, if we want a new one in 18 months, are we willing to start 12 months into this? Or eight months into this to give somebody a chance to build it again?

And then you sort of, well, you almost reduce the time to say, “Well, just let’s continuously improve the website and, and do things and have a new website rollout over 18 months.” But, you know, somebody in charge of content, somebody in charge of all of the news, etc. Yeah, go ahead.

Steve: I was going to say, a big thing to jump back is really that getting a fresh view on your website, the internal versus external view, it’s easy to get comfortable. Because I remember working on a website that I had worked on for a while for a client and someone else sat down and reviewed it, basically, with me that had not looked at it before and just pointed out all these obvious things that I sat there…and I mean, this is a website for a client, not for a company I work with. So I’m not even directly connected to it, and I had become so… It had become so internalized how it was to me. Then when someone sat down and said, “Oh, this, this, and this could be better,” it was just like, it was—

Paul: You become blind to it.

Steve: It was revolutionary. And it shouldn’t have been. It would have been… I might have seen the same things.

Jacob: Did I, did I hurt your feelings, Steve, when I sat down and did that? Was that me?

Steve: I don’t think that was you.

Paul: No, that was when you were talking about him.

Steve: If it was, I would give you the credit.

Jacob: For me, even with organizations that I’m involved with, even though I do web design with SaviorLabs, I actually don’t do the websites for organizations that I’m involved with because I’m too close to the heart of the issue, and I’m too blind — like you’re talking about — to the very things that I want to be prominent. And it get too familiar with it.

Steve: Yeah. There’s a great joke post on medium.com the other week. It was, it was a fake chain of emails from the CEO to the design and development team.

Paul: Yes, I saw that. Yes.

Steve: We should put that in the show notes, because it’s, it’s beautiful. And it’s just, you know, it’s the CEO emailing the whole company, basically, like, “Hi guys. I read that words on websites are bad. Take all the words off.” And then like three hours later, “Just kidding, put the words back on.” Just like, you know, by the end, he’s put everything back the exact way it was. But, it’s, you know, you get worried when people that close to it are making all of the calls for the website, because it just becomes personal preference, and you’re blind to it.

Ideas for Improvement

Jacob: So, for the website itself, for Granite, if we were to be doing work for them or we were to give them, you know, a few key ideas of how to improve the website, what would be a few takeaways? Because we mentioned that there’s a server issue, there’s compression dynamics that are off. The newsfeed is not synced between Twitter on their website, contact form itself is a bit dated. Where would you go with, Paul?

Paul: Well, I would certainly do, you know, the, the emergency response would be to fix the speed. I mean, those are easy gimmes. Make sure the images are optimized, everything is optimized, so it loads as fast and as snappy as it can be. I would probably remove the camera feeds thing immediately. I might, you know, have a discussion. I wouldn’t change the whole design, although I think it should be responsive. But that would be more of a second or third tier. I would probably try and reduce the amount of vertical space that’s lost, because, you know, that’s the most valuable space up there. I think it would look a lot different if you just took everything off of that first half inch up here at the top and almost just cut it out and pushed it right up against the browser bar. So those would be the first things.

You know, some of the making sure that somebody is adding new news. Let’s unify the Twitter feed and the news feed. I think that would be tremendously beneficial. The other thing is, you know, there’s this whole concept of inbound marketing. And in the old days, you’d have outbound marketing, where you would, you know, say… You go out to somebody and you say, “Please come to my store,” or whatever it is.

Well, inbound marketing is different. You motivate the consumer to come in and to get something. And usually it’s free. It’s sort of like in, in retail, where you say the first 500 guests will get a free steak. Or buy one get one free, or something like that.

So, what’s happened now is this inbound marketing is you write an article or an e-book or something that is of interest to your target audience, and you basically show that to them, and say, “Hey, come to our website and download this and give me your email and pay with an email.”

Jacob: Yeah, with this company, it would seem to me that, you know, if they are a leader in their field and, for example, they have, you know, best practices or one of the best places to work, it seems to me there’s at least two or three e-book ideas there for how to do best practices for, you know, the leasing services they do, the type of clientele that they reach. And then also, there might be an e-book for managers and CEOs of how to run a company that wins these sort of awards of like best practices and best…so that you are appealing across the board. And that’s just two to three basic ideas for e-books.

Paul: Absolutely. I mean, e-books, they’re incredibly effective. And I think that there’s lots of opportunities in real estate management.

Steve: We, we have worked with… It’s called a vertical, right? When someone is in like a very niche market?

Paul: Yes, yes it is.

Steve: We can cut that out so I don’t sound too dumb, right?

Paul: Okay. That’s fine.

Steve: So, obviously, they work in a vertical, like a very niche market. And I think that in some ways, they…this company or other companies like this might sit there and say, “No, you don’t understand. Our clientele are very defined and esoteric, and we don’t have a lot to gain.”

And I would kind of push back on that, and I would say, “I bet you have some low-hanging fruit that you’re just not picking right now, that you’re ignoring.” They’ve got a video linked on their front page, actually, but it’s like bottom-right. And they could make that… You know, they could imbed that on their site on the top to watch “Who is Granite?”

They could make a call to action. Maybe it isn’t the typical contact form or free thing, but it could be, “Here. Read our long description that most of our customers read about how we technically build things.” It could be different for them. They probably do presentations. They could offer their presentation slide in exchange for an email. There’s a lot of stuff that we would modify somewhat for them, because, you know, they’re not going to… Average Joe on the street is not going to stumble across their site and say, “I want a residential building,” or, “I want a professional building.” But they are going to say… The business man might be more swayed by easier access.

Jacob: Yeah, and I think that pointing out the CTA, or the Call to Action, I think that would be one of the main things I would want to drive at for improving the website, is, what is the call to action you’re calling people to? What do you want them to do with the website? Because, otherwise, it’s kind of a glorified business card if you’re just kind of saying who you are.

Paul: Well, you know, I agree with that. But I was just thinking about this the other day. Glorified business card. You know, is this supposed to be a business brochure or a business book about your business? Or is it supposed to be a business card? Or is it just to be a pamphlet? And I think it has to be all of those things, because there’s different levels of engagement. And you know, one of the, the rubrics of inbound marketing is it lets people come in and grab on to whatever level they want of interest. So, you know, you can have a site.

The problem, I think, one of the problems with the site is it forces you to consume too much. You need, you need to understand way too much to get to their value proposition. And that, a lot of people aren’t going to invest that time and energy.

Jacob: Right. You have to think about who your clientele is — what do they want? — and then speak specifically to those needs.

Paul: Absolutely. Make it crystal clear.

Jacob: Laser sharp. It has to be laser sharp to what you’re messaging them with. Excellent. Thanks, guys, for talking about this website. And we’ll have another episode about understanding what’s going on with websites and the dynamics of the technical side and the customer side and how to improve that on our next episode of the Edge of Innovation.


Also published on Medium.