St. Valentine’s Day, Neanderthals, and Effective Web Design for Business
February 11, 2015
With St. Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s only natural that our thoughts should turn to Neanderthals. (It is rather common to think of Neanderthals on February 14th, and it’s proven that at least 8% of people do that.)
Okay – actually, this article is about effective design for business websites, but Valentine’s Day and the Neanderthals offer meaningful insight into what really makes a website profitable. (If at any time while reading this blog post you feel ready to make it a reality for your business, contact Van West Media).
In case you somehow missed your first paleoanthropology lecture, the distinct species of Neanderthal humans roamed the world roughly 350,000 years ago – hanging out at stomping grounds as far and wide as Northern Germany in the North, Portugal in the West, Israel in the South, and the Altai mountains in the East. The Neanderthals made advanced tools, could speak, formed social hierarchies, buried their dead, adorned themselves with bird feathers, built dwellings, and even sailed the Mediterranean a hundred thousand years before ancient Greeks.
Then, sometime around 40,000 years ago – BAM! – just like that, the Neanderthals vanished.
The prevalent theory, until recently, was that the crude and uncultivated Neanderthals went extinct via the process of natural selection, simply because they couldn’t successfully compete against the genetically superior Cro-Magnon humans. (Notice how by introducing the notion of competition, I’m beginning to steer the conversation toward the subject of effective web design for business?) According to the Neanderthal extinction theory, modern humans have descended directly from a fairly small tribe of Cro-Magnon people who, being smarter, stronger and generally cooler than the Neanderthals, gently pushed the more primitive genetic cousins out of existence. Or not so gently, if we trust William Golding. (A similar thing happened with blog platforms in 2004: enter WordPress, exit MovableType).
As it turned out, we’ve been flattering ourselves. A recent genetic study concluded Neanderthal humans are still around. Not only have they NOT gone extinct, but they actually fared rather well. In fact, there are about 8 billion Neanderthals living on planet Earth today. You are one of them.
Sure, chances are you’re not a pure-bred Neanderthal, but a genetic hybrid of a Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon, like all of us. Instead of going extinct, the Neanderthals did a much smarter thing: they followed Senator James E. Watson‘s favorite proverb “if you can’t lick ’em, jine ’em”, went ahead and seduced – uh, genetically merged with – the Cro-Magnons. I find this romantic, and I’m inclined to believe that the process began some 50,000 years ago – perhaps on a cold, windy, but sunny day on February 14.
So not only were the Neanderthals effective in genetic competition with the Cro-Magnons, but the very reason why modern Homo Sapiens are so evolutionally successful is because sophisticated, impossibly stylish Cro-Magnon men were smart enough to find something attractive in sturdy, streetwise Neanderthal women. Or vice versa.
Now for the effective design for a business website.
When regular web users think of great web design, they often tend to think in terms of esthetics. AWWWards showcases some amazing sites that certainly inspire and astonish their visitors. These websites are the Cro-Magnons of web design. They are works of art – elegant, glossy and expensive. The problem with a great number of these websites is that they often serve to showcase the creative capabilities of the design and development teams, rather than present a tool that helps a business to achieve its commercial or nonprofit goals.
On the other hand, we may see something fairly crude and ugly, like this: https://www.securitychoice.com/ This website wasn’t designed by Van West Media, I’m just using it as an example. There’s nothing posh about it. Colors clash. Homepage is clattered. There’s too much going on. The copy is unnecessarily extensive, navigation is un-intuitive, the layout is not responsive, so it not very convenient for users browsing via mobile devices. This website really violates every principle of esthetics. It’s the Neanderthal of websites. Okay, let me just say it like it is: it’s freaking horrible.
But it works.
It works really well because it serves a very specific purpose: to motivate web users to pick up the phone, call the company and sign up for a home security service. When people shop online for home security, they want to know how much it will cost them. Guess what? The website answers the question instantly and boldly. As soon as the user loads the site in the browser, the price question is answered. It’s cheap. And since it’s America’s Number 1 Home Security Provider, as the very visible heading states in no uncertain terms, it must be the best choice (right?) – here we have something known as “social proof.” There are discounts and freebies offered very conspicuously to incite users to take action now. Finally, all you need is pick up the phone and call – and the number is right there, in large bold letters in the header, in the body, and in the footer – and so is the promo code. In case you’re not big on phone calls, a contact form is right there, as well. Also, the website is not as low-tech as it appears at first: it tells the user how much time is left until the company’s call center is closed for the day. It even has a special tab that allows users to enter their ZIP code and check how safe (or unsafe) their neighborhood is.
And yet, the design is garish and confusing. I’m sure the website earns the business a lot of money, but it could earn a lot more. There are plenty of improvements to be made.
What you need is a website that is clean, easy to navigate, well-performing, and responsive – and it should also serve a clearly defined purpose: generate leads and urge visitors to take action that results in fulfilling their needs and making your business more successful. You need something like Daily Pantry Foods, Profound Cloud, Animal Health Center, or Golden Door.
You need a website that merges the beauty and performance of a Cro-Magnon with the down-to-earth, raw business power of a Neanderthal – a website that combines the beauty of your vision with the force of your purpose.
In other words, you need to give your business a Valentine’s Day present, primal style.
That’s where Van West Media comes into the picture. Our speciality is digital solutions for business. We will help you determine the hierarchy of business goals that you can achieve using modern technology, and express that through user-friendly, elegantly designed online software, handmade for your business.
Ready to increase your company’s ability to compete? Engage Van West Media.