Connected experiences, not just standalone touchpoints
Startups often prioritize speed of delivery over brand experience. But impressions are formed in an instant. Customer decisions are based on confidence. We believe companies must signal maturity in their message and identity to have the impact they want to achieve. All without sacrificing what gives their work meaning.
Early-stage technology companies move fast. Speed is their advantage. They’re able to adjust to new opportunities and new environments quickly. Building technology is the first priority. Does the code do what it says it does? Does it solve a problem? That’s enough. Ship fast and often. Repeat.
Speed comes at the expense of refinement of brand. Messages lack clarity. Visual identity lacks polish. Ultimately the first impressions customers have of a company is that it’s not a company at all. It’s a work in progress.
In an open source project’s early stages, the experience of being a work in progress isn’t always a disadvantage. It communicates that the project is something that you can contribute to. It needs you. It’s also an opportunity to get involved early.
While great for a project, it doesn’t help someone betting their company and their career on the solution you deliver.
There are many split-second first impressions we all make of each other. Our intuition has served us well in the course of human evolution. In business, it protects our reputation.
It happens in business just as it does in nature. It’s called signaling.
Can I trust this company? Do they understand me? The problems I need to solve? Do they have the expertise to do it? Have they done it for others like me? Can I rely on them? In other words, can I bet my own reputation, and sometimes career on purchasing from them?
Anyone who tells you that business to business purchases aren’t human or personal is being disingenuous. Enterprise purchases are more complex, sure. They’re not smartphones or soda. But anyone who has been in charge of purchasing software for a company knows this. Whatever you choose will be scrutinized. And you with it.
Yes, sometimes these impressions can be superficial. Just like driving an expensive car doesn’t mean you’re successful and people can trust you.
But we’re talking about websites. And user experiences. We all know the difference between a DIY project website that was spun up two weeks ago vs a website of an established company that has been refined over time with every word, color, and visual element carefully considered.
You have to establish those signals in the mind of the person you’re trying to reach. So it’s very important to know them. And to know what they’re trying to do and why they come to you for your help. And what their alternatives are. Then your job is to communicate to that person as simply, clearly, and quickly as possible.
And know that everything they see is carrying a message. Whether you’re communicating intentionally or not. So everything must be intentional.
That is our hope for you.
We want to help you communicate the right level of maturity for your audience. And we never want to let a lack of polish undo the work of your product teams or hold back the efforts of your sales teams. Your brand experience opens the door.
- See the world with new eyes
Start by seeing your company the way that first visitors to your website would. That’s always the key. First visitors. Your repeat customers already like you and know their way around your website and have learned to tolerate its flaws. But suspend some disbelief. What do you see?
- Get feedback from peers
The honest peers that will tell you your baby is ugly. Ask them: If you came to this website, what does it tell you about our company in the first 20 seconds? Because that’s about as much as you’re going to get.
- Shop the competition
Visit websites of your competitors. What do you see? What messages are they communicating? Does the experience on the website match the experience you’d want to see and feel as a customer? That’s exactly what your customers are going to do before finding yours.
- Upgrade in stages
Know you can’t fix every flaw in your customer experience all at once. You have code to write and a business to run. But in our experience, some investment speaks loudly in the care you put into other aspects of your business.
- The ultimate DIY upgrade: simplify
If you can’t invest in a new identity or new website now, your mission should be to simplify. Use fewer words. Short paragraphs. On your homepage, avoid paragraphs altogether. Keep language simple. We all know this when we visit other websites — we don’t read, do we — but immediately forget when it comes to our own.
- Save space for your edge
Being a mature company doesn’t mean boring. The companies we love have personality. They speak to us as humans. It feels like they know us and we know them. If your audience has an edge, keep some of it. That’s what’s going to make your company recognizably you.