A new approach, design for Controls on etcconnect.com
We recently made several notable changes to the section of our website dedicated to presenting our Controls products (both Entertainment and Architectural). I wanted to share some of the thought process and strategic planning that went into this project to bring a little extra attention to it and to invite any comments on the changes.
The project to redesign this section of our website was intended to address several problems. Mainly:
- We had recognized the existence and importance of our product families as a company, and had started to advertise around the idea, but we had not actively promoted these product relationships online.
- On etcconnect.com, all consoles from all families were treated just about equally, diluting efforts to brand and position our products among one another and against the competition.
- Our established method of segmenting entertainment and architectural control products just wasn't working.
You could say that we sought out to address these problems with nothing more than some basic marketing principles - defining our target more precisely and addressing the needs of that target more directly - and you'd be right to an extent. Especially when it comes to our three lines of architectural control systems under the Unison brand, which are well-articulated in their purpose and ideal applications. However, since our two flagship lines of entertainment controls are each functionally appropriate for a wide variety of lighting situations - a fact that the product managers for our controls products are very proud of - it was going to take a broader, more integrated approach to communicate the philosophical differences that could help users decide if they're a better fit for an Eos or Ion or for a Congo or Congo jr. So from a web marketing perspective, we aimed to solve our problems with the following strategies:
- Raise the visibility of our product families, and let their unique personalities shine through.
- Make product pages a true hub of relevant and related content.
- Offer more decision-making resources.
New Entertainment Controls "Product Category" page
New version of this page uses a fast-loading interactive Flash module to allow buyers to explore a little bit about all our product families without having to click through to a new page. Graphics are meant to convey a sense of each families style and personality - the Congo family as being dynamic, fun, and effects-driven, for instance. Brief positioning copy gives newbies a hint at the strengths of the different products, and subtle visual accents help to distinguish them further. What was the single laundry list of product links is now multiple, short lists grouped by family, making individual products easy to find for repeat visitors. The links have rollover descriptions to help buyers get a little bit of information on consoles before deciding which one to check out. Cross-promotional bits below the product links call out other important news and and product features. An Architectural Control Systems version of this page was launched, too, with a separate navigation item under "Products", which resolves nicely one of three main problems outlined at the start of this post.
New Entertainment Controls "Product Family" page
Improvements to this page included, from the top down, the addition of a breadcrumb navigation; a rotating series of images highlighting the consoles that make up the selected family; a slick new series of tabs that instantly reveal more new content - a useful pop-up intra-family comparison chart, testimonials from actual product owners and users, and links to installation stories that previously had no linked connection whatsoever to the products they featured. Family consoles are obviously featured in a vertical list, with focused, meaningful and easily-digestible descriptions. All content is geared toward helping a buyer figure out if a family feels right, and if so, which of the offerings feels most right for them. Architectural version of this page is currently available for our new Mosaic Show Control family of products.
New Entertainment Controls Product page
With this template, many of the same elements are carried over from the old design, with some usability improvements made along the way. From the top down, again, you see the breadcrumb navigation to allow for easy browsing back to the family - or all the way back to the category page should a user decide to explore a different family; the new product photo gallery auto-rotates, and also offers more obvious buttons to manually do the same thing; a repeat of the positioning headline is followed by small icons that detail some of the core operational concepts associated with each console (we have more in store for these); a row of new links below the hero image links a user for the first time from a product page to the forum for that product on our Online Community; new tab design makes the full extent of product-related content much more obvious - and includes a new "Tech Specs" tab to give buyers a quick look at key facts and figures from our downloadable datasheets; and the potential is now there for really enhancing the description of each console's features.
Of course we're already monitoring our web traffic reports to see how and how often the new pages are being used, and will be continuing to fill in and enhance content (web projects seem to rarely reach a point of being totally "complete", especially when our products are always evolving). For instance, the new Tech Specs and Testimonials pages have been utilized by hundreds of site visitors already, and we expect that we'll be helping more current and potential ETC console operators than ever find our user forums - which would be a huge benefit for everyone.
Quantitative results aside, what are your reactions to these changes?