Building a new website: Is it for you or your consumer? - Showtime Digital

Building a new website: Is it for you or your consumer?

08 November 2018 Read 1520 times

For companies who upgrade their websites there are two trains of thought on how they go about achieving their finished website.

There’s the Ferrari and the Porsche approach to doing things.

While the analogy is generic in nature it’s an easy way to understand the range of thought processes companies are driven by and the finished product they present to the market.

Companies can employ different aspects of both methodologies and arrive somewhere in the centre but as a philosophical spectrum the analogy is an interesting one.

Let me explain…


The Ferrari methodology

Ferrari is a company who prides itself on the belief they have no competition. They have a well-known reputation of not allowing their cars to be directly compared to other manufacturers.

While other manufacturers are happy to throw moto journalists the keys, but Ferrari, when given no choice will turn up to the track with their own pit crew so they can analyse data and optimise lap times on the day.


Case in point, in 2015 McLaren, Porsche and Ferrari bought out their new hyper cars (the P1, 918 and La Ferrari). Until owners bought the La Ferrari and raced them with the P1 and 918 no one knew how it faired in a direct comparison.

What bothers me is philosophically and visually every new Ferrari model looks different. They appear to start from zero with each new model, catering to the fashion of the day.


The Porsche methodology

The Porsche way of doing things is totally different by comparison. Their philosophy is ‘form follows function’. You can look at a 911 and know it’s a Porsche and you can trace its visual cues back to the first Porsche 911 built in 1963. Even people who aren’t car people know the shape as being distinctly Porsche. Their design philosophy is transferred to almost every model, the Cayenne, Cayman, Boxster and the Panamera.


People who don’t ‘get it’ say each new model looks the same as the last one, but it’s a documented fact Porsche changes at least 60% of their body panels, even with a model’s mid-life refresh. They might be small improvements but they’re significant being more than the sum of its parts.


Is your website a Porsche or Ferrari?

Ok. Now, I want to ask you this.

If you manage a website for your company or the company you work for, which methodology have you adopted?

Your answer is important and I’m going to explain why.

Website philosophy

Ok, before we go any further we need to get some history context from a digital perspective.


Some digital history

Around the late 90’s we were embracing the World Wide Web, the Dot Com bubble was starting to burst, Alta Vista was the search engine of the day and we all had Nokia phones. Slim Shady and Britney Spears were huge, and Russell Crowe was the Gladiator.

If you’re still blank you were being placed in front of the TV to watch Teletubbies and Blues Clues.

Leading up to this time companies created glossy brochures to leave with their prospective clients, like personally…in their offices. These were strategically placed on top of the competitor’s brochure on leaving their office.

While most companies believed this internet thing didn’t have legs (seriously), some more adventurous companies, with a foot in each camp, would begrudgingly request the web developer/sales person to ‘just place our brochure online’.

And that, in simple terms, was how many companies built their first websites. It was a digital brochure.

It wasn’t sophisticated by any means. Even today we can see the legacy of the brochure website with page titles like Who we are/What we do. I’d suggest people care less about the Who and What and more about the Why and What’s in it for me.


How far have we come in 20 years?

Today in 2018 when you create a website there’s many more considerations. Branding, strategy, UI and UX, copywriting, sophisticated backends and a plethora of other boxes to tick. But when you break it down there are basically three types of websites out there.


If it ain’t broke…

For many companies those brochure websites haven’t really changed. These companies are either very conservative or lack the funds to do anything of note. They invariably have no analytics and don’t see their website as a piece in the puzzle of the consumer journey.

They remind me of the pensioner down the road who still drives their 1996 Mercedes E Class. It still look’s ok for its age, but with 270,000 kms on the clock it’s driven with a little more mechanical sympathy these days.


With a host of cost effective, simple website themes and templates out there today there’s no excuse for an ugly outdated website. But alas it falls on deaf ears.

Moving along…


The Ferrari – following the fashion

The challenge with following the digital fashion approach is you are driving the changes, not the consumer.

You may say there’s nothing wrong with a Ferrari to which I’d say, sure, but you don’t have the luxury of being Ferrari.

With no goals set up, no event tracking you have no data and you’re basically running blind. This lack of consumer insight is a contributing factor as to why companies choose digital fashion over function. They have nowhere else to turn.

So naturally they look to their competition as inspiration or worse, they emulate them. After all, they look like they know what they’re doing…right?

When the blind lead the blind get out of the way!

This is also why companies are easily swayed by the whistles and bells some digital agencies spruik. They fall prey to the fashion of the day or the Next Big Thing in the misguided belief they can cover a huge amount of ground in one single bound.

Companies who buy into the silver bullet are invariably at odds with the question of quality over quantity having the misguided belief their brand means something.

The reality is with so much marketing noise which consumers need to filter out, they have become experts in believing less of what you say.

Considering its perceived weaknesses, above all Ferrari speaks to a specific individual, not the wider audience. The difference between Ferrari and the rest of us is we require different arrows in our quiver, one’s of focus, specialisation and a Niche Down approach.


The Porsche – form follows function

The form follows function approach relies on a discipline of constant optimisation. It sets the consumer at the centre of everything you do.

Companies who have housed and analysed their data know what consumers love or hate when visiting their digital assets.

Focus on your consumer, they pay the bills

They have Google Tag Manager and Analytics set up, they are recording how often people are clicking CTA Buttons and downloading White Pages.

They may be using specifically built landing pages or microsites for their Google Ads and Bing campaigns and repurposing little visited assets on their website and making them available to a larger audience where more data can uncover faster conclusions.

A simple example of how actions can be recorded is if you take information on your website’s FAQ page and create an FAQ section on your landing page using an accordion style form, much like the one below where each click can be recorded.


The data retrieved from this exercise helps you understand the priorities of your consumer and can inform the landing page copy above the fold. It can be used in all your communications including the copy for your future website.

If you’re a start-up you have the right to say, ’just put us on the map’. But if this is your third upgrade and you’re saying I want to look like my competitor, you need to get back to basics because you’re in a flying pattern running out of fuel.


Here’s a plan

If you believe you’re going to need a website upgrade in the next 12-24 months, I’d recommend you build up some web analytics first. Using the steps below you are less likely to waste good money on a website and achieve better outcomes.

  1. Set up Google Analytics on your website.
  2. Use event tracking and tag manager to log actions
  3. Use Google Ads and Bing for 12 months to gather consumer data
  4. specially to advertise on these Search engines
  5. Use event tracking and tag manager on your landing page or microsite
  6. Optimise landing pages in the following ways as the data allows you
  7. After 12 months you will have some solid insights on how to build a consumer-focused website

If you’d like to know how to build landing pages which convert download this ebook on the subject.

If you’d like assistance to set up Google Analytics and event tracking call us on 03 9009 9644.


Steve Palmer

Steve Palmer is the Joint Founder and CEO of Showtime Digital. Steve has been in B2B sales since 1997 but influencing people and behavioural science has been a long-term passion.

The magic he brings to his clients is in knowing how to engage their audience. His goal is to help businesses understand the deeper reasons of why consumers convert online with them.