April 2022 Newsletter

**** The 4specs Perspective

What is the purpose of your website?

A very simple question, but a very important one. As most of the companies listed in the 4specs directory are ultimately specification driven, we see these as the primary purposes for a product website:

  1. Getting specified.
  2. Providing the architect with enough information to hold the specification, and not permit a substitution to be approved.
  3. Getting a substitution approved when you were not specified.

The website purpose is not to present a pretty face and some glossy flash about your company. While the ultimate purpose is to sell products, being specified or being accepted as a substitution is a necessary step for most projects. While many sales people perceive that specifications are not being held, many times the architect did not have enough information available to hold the spec.

If you are a public company you will need to present your financial information and if you sell to consumers you will need information related to their needs. In the future, it will become increasingly important to use your website to make it easy for your dealers (or subcontractors if you sell direct) to buy your products. eCommerce if you wish, phase 3.

Anything that gets in the way of being specified or being approved may cost you a sale. Over the past 8 months I have looked at over 15,000 product websites. You probably not be surprised at the problems we frequently see: no phone number, no address for the corporate office and an email address that does not work.

4specs recently ran a short survey. 10,000 users saw the survey, 100 responded. Not exactly scientific, but interesting. [Link not active anymore]

  1. 65% use the Internet as a PRIMARY resource.
  2. 41% said websites were poor, 41% OK
  3. 71% were specifiers, architects or engineers, 19% contractors
  4. 41% said their primary job was specifications, 21% was working drawings
  5. 58% worked on commercial, industrial or hospitality projects, 22% on governmental and institutional.

We propose that every website can be excellent. We recommend cutting away everything on your website that does not improve the probability of being specified. This includes all the nice web tricks that make a website "look nice" but slows down the website or provides less than top search engine results.

The worst websites have deliberate design decisions that significantly reduce the number of free referrals from search engines. These decisions include websites using primarily flash and database driven websites. More about these later, or look again at our newsletter on making your website search engine friendly.

While writing this newsletter, I received this email asking me to write an article for their print newsletter. Here is a quote from that email:

Do you think manufacturers will ever understand what the specifier wants, or will they continue to offer only pretty pictures? Do you feel that the architects and specifiers will ever get their message across?

I recognize that there is a natural tension between the sales and marketing people verses the IT department or web consultant. The marketing people better understand the specification issues and the IT Department or web consultant is looking to use the latest tools to make a hot website. Over the next year or so we will be revisiting many of the design issues concerning websites and focusing on getting specified, getting substituted and making it easy to purchase your products.

This was the September 2002 Newsletter. I was right on target way back then. Some people are slow learners.



Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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