May 2014 Newsletter
**** The 4specs Perspective
What does Google assume to be the direction of search and the Internet?
My thinking for this newsletter started with an article in Business Insider asking if Google was weak in search. While this may seem like a preposterous thought, their question raises questions about searching in the "specified product" niche.
Google sees the future of search in smart phones (Android and iPhones) and tablets and not in desktops or portables. Google perceives that people search to buy, price check or learn before buying or doing.
As an example, my family drove to Las Vegas through a Utah snow storm. Our car, with bikes on the back, was was covered in road salt. In Las Vegas, my wife searched using her iPhone for a car wash with wands so we did not have to remove the bikes and bike rack. Google quickly showed us a car wash about a mile away.
The concept of searching today, someone else writing a specification next month and a third party buying the materials in 3 years is an alien concept to the Internet economy. Yet that is the business of "specified products".
Small mobile devices cannot access the design and installation information needed for a commercial or institutional project. At best the user can get a phone number to call. iPads are a very different story. They can access most of the data on a standard website, and architects love the iPad. Note that flash images completely fail on the iPad and eliminating flash should be a priority in any web redesign you do this year. I see large-monitor desktop systems dominating the "specified product" selection process for a long time.
Here are what I think each person is looking for
Specifier (full time W-2 employee and 1009-contract independent specifier) - looking for 3-5 solutions to meet the project requirements, preferably using manufacturers known to the specifier. In addition they want to identify alternate suppliers and may visit the other websites to understand their offerings. The independent specifier seldom has a significant binder library as they frequently work from home or a small office. They rely heavily on the Internet for research when writing specs.
Project architect and production design team - looking for one solution to solve the day's design issue. For the project specifications they will generally work from MasterSpec, SpecLink or an older office master.
Construction Admin person - looking to compare a substitution request to the specifier-selected products or for MSDS and installation instructions while on the job site - frequently with an iPad or portable computer.
Subcontractor - relies on his local distributor and rep for product information and for potential cost-saving substitutions. May go to the Internet for submittal and MSDS sheets.
General contractor - relies on subs for information. May use the Internet to resolve problems and conflicts.
When you work to update your website, consider each type of user you expect and provide fast access to the information they need.
Google and Bing look to Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) as part of their page ranking systems. In my opinion Twitter has too much noise and virtually no information. Facebook is more for personal contacts. My high school classmates are well connected through Facebook. Even though LinkedIn has an active CSI group, I do not believe LinkedIn is a viable marketing direction for manufacturer's products to be found by specifiers or architects. There are some reports that Google+ is being abandoned or down played.
Focus on making your website useful.
Feedback and questions are always appreciated.
Publisher - 4specs