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Mimicking the Big Fish

The Process

Let me run this by you. You need a website. Your competition has a new one. You are wary of being left bobbing in the wake of their success. So you check the budget then get the designers in and tell them you need a new website. They take the brief and go away to put some Indie pop on the MP3 player and set about making you look current. After some arm wrestling where they threaten you with violence if you ask to use “Comic Sans” font in the contacts page to “Keep it friendly!” and you threaten them with non-payment if they don’t get their skates on.

Eventually, hopefully on time, you have your website and it looks cool with all the “About Us” information available to anyone who is the slightest bit interested. A flourishing tribute to your “one-stop shop” in your “What we do” page which also lets everyone know that “… we endeavour to achieve excellence on behalf of our clients between the hours of 0900 and 1700..”  or “…our service is second to none and every client is assigned a….” You get my drift.

Your client is in no doubt about how to  contact you by email, by form, by telephone or by following google maps on his smartphone all the way to your door. Where they will be “always welcome to pop round for a coffee“…

There… done! You have a website that will make your other competitors wary of bobbing in your wake.

What value have you added? Will your client wish to see your site for any reason other than curiosity? Ultimately, will it harness any business potential?

Online Brochure

Seldom will you see an enterprise site that is basically an online brochure – well not since 1996 anyway. Large enterprises spend lots of time and money on researching and testing before going online. Seldom is a word used that is not a bullet in it’s marketing or PR armoury. No image is there because “it looks pretty”. Everything is highly considered and purposeful. So why do smaller companies believe they should have a different approach? Big fish are always re-assessing, always reviewing their stance on different aspects of their business. They never rest upon their laurels. Never sit back to admire the cleverness and currency of their site. Every day they have to be better than their competitors. They need to make doing business with them a very simple process. The key to online success is clarity and simplicity. That’s why they are big fish!


Smaller companies have a tendency to fill every potential ambiguity with data the client doesn’t need. If you have a batch of super widgets at a great price that will allow your wholesale customer to make a reasonable profit they will be interested. The fact that your “About Us” page informs them of your personal philosophy of “our clients are our friends” means nothing. Sorry! Nada, zilch , zero and nil. You are hardly going to say “our clients are simply expendable revenue sources” although they all know that is the fact of the matter. This is commerce – not a bonding exercise. When can you deliver at that price? That’s what they want to know.

 Typical web page comparisons:

Big Fish

Little Fish

 Homepage Looks like a magazine. Every image and paragraph a “call to action” . Every important or current CTA is above the fold (doesn’t need a scroll) and the CTA’s below the fold have a link above. You want to click but you don’t know what to click on first. Seldom use the word Homepage. Sounds old school and definitely not a true description. Try Landing Page. It’s where your clients land and if it’s not right it’s also where they leave. Looks like the opening page of a book. Banner graphic then into the words. If this page is not working you will be left bobbing in that aforementioned wake as the potential customer spends his 3.7 seconds assessing the page and deciding it is not clear or obvious enough. Think Landing page – you can still call it home!
 About Us Big Fish often simply don’t have one or they have corporate responsibilities, company structures etc. Seldom do they bang on about me me me or us us us. They assume a level of discerning intellect from their readers because, let’s face it, their passing trade are not interested. Small fish will tell you every cliched philosophy of every small company. I have listed some throughout this piece. Feel free to make up your own. Have a look at some smaller websites. When you recognise the absurdity of trying to convince everyone you are more of a philanthropist than a business then you might start writing something pertinent – or don’t have an about us. Consider whether it’s actually needed.
 Services/Products Big fish deal in clarity. Here’s what we do in precise detail. Here’s the spec on what we sell. No frippery. Just tell them. The customer usually  knows what a super widget is. You are probably the tenth site on the google search they did. Smaller fish often feel that need to ‘over-egg the pudding’. Don’t. Tell them what they need to know in small headed paragraphs or bullet points. If they need more spec? Link to a detail page!
 Contacts Large enterprises have to treat this differently as they so often have multiple outlets or offices and often specific queries are distributed to pertinent destinations within their network but they can always be contacted. For smaller companies. Don’t get hung up on form fills and quotation/estimation forms. If your client wants to contact you they will and seldom via a form fill. People like to talk to people unless they are simply buying widgets. If you have a phone email and small out of hours message form you will never miss out. Trust me!

The basis of what is being said here is this. Big fish spend bucket loads of money to get it right. Small fish make assumptions. Don’t…. and don’t just ask an expert. Listen to them.

If you think your website could use a “Big Fish” review of its stance talk to us and we will quite probably surprise you with our findings.

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