June 2021 Newsletter
What Makes a Problem Website
Many of our past newsletters have focused on specific problems in website design. This newsletter will list some of the problems we see. I will start by using the Figueras Group website as an example.
- Until recently the Figueras website had a specific US subdirectory 4specs used to direct our users to their US data. Recently the US subdirectory was changed to redirect to the main Spanish site with no obvious way to get to US data..
- The only contact information on their website is in Barcelona Spain. There is no indication if their products are available for US and Canadian projects and which products are supported here. For North American manufacturers, providing the time zone is important for users on the West Coast to know for their afternoon phone calls.
- I looked all over the Figueras site for specific information needed to specify their products and to compare to other manufacturers. All information had to be requested by sending in a form. I assume CAD, BIM and product specification information would be available after sending them the form. Given Spain is 5-8 hours ahead, there is no indication of how fast they will respond. If emailed in the afternoon on Friday, will the response be received before Monday morning?
- While the website feels fairly fast using my 100 MB download speed on a weekend, the webpagetest.org test shows they are actually fairly slow. First byte time was 0.746 seconds and 0.2 is generally recommended as a maximum target. The website uses many images and required 2.5 MB to download the home page due to all the images.
- This is a very visual website that looks good. There is virtually no text describing the products or the decision process to decide which products are appropriate. This site is clearly targeted to the architect who is very visual.
- In my opinion, the Figueras website focuses on the wrong person to ensure inclusion in US and Canadian specifications. In Europe the architect does not make the decision on which manufacturer will be used and makes visual and safety decisions. In Europe the contractor performs the last 50% of the design that decides which specific manufacturer will be used and final product decisions.
There are lots of other examples of website problems I have noted and saved. Here are a few:
- Lindener Group - at one time they had a US subdirectory that was removed. This is an international firm with no online guidance on what is available in the US and Canada and the US contact information took some time for me to find,
- Gordon International - another site with no way to see what they make. While they have text links to their named products, a user need to click on each one to see what is available. If you do not know their product names, using their site is very difficult. A simple listing with images and short descriptions would be very helpful (perhaps looking like the 4specs showcase listings).
- M-Fire SUppression - no easy to find specification information. Not obvious testing results.
- DIRTT - no obvious product data
- CETCO - this is the 4specs link. If you start at the company home page, the route in to the CETCO product info is not obvious. I guess that the web designer is counting on Google to deliver users to their data by not providing an easy to find and use their product information.
Think of your website as a 3-ring binder in an architect's office and make it easy to find and use your product information. The solution to a "glossy brochure" website is a simple target page to provide the specifier and architect quick access to the design information they need. Here is an example of a profile page developed by 4specs. This can be developed and hosted on your current website or 4specs can develop and host the page.
Questions, comments and suggestions are always appreciated.
Publisher - 4specs