Ian Lurie // Aug 7 2007
I don’t gush. Ask any of my friends. Coming from me, “Not bad” is high praise. So know that I’m in no way trying to apply my lips to Steve Jobs’ fanny here. But I call ‘em like I see ‘em – Apple’s new home page, launched in its final version a few hours ago, is a great demonstration of some key design, branding and internet marketing principles:
Their home page is not ‘Web 2.0′, ‘Web 3.0′ or ‘Web 1000000′. It’s just what it needs to be.
Awareness of Audience: No Begging, No Featurespeak
Apple is aware of their audience. You either love the iMac or you don’t. No sense trying to force people to change their minds. So they present the product and let you make the decision. No obfuscation, no double-speak.
That leads to a clear message: Here’s our product. Here’s why you’ll like it (or not). Now it’s up to you. No lists of features or ‘we will not be undersold’ messages. Apple does not confuse features with value.
The focus on value means a clear message: This product is cool, stylish and powerful.
That clarity of message drives simplicity in the design.
When you arrive at Apple.com, you see navigation (six choices) and the news du jour: The iMac. That’s all that’s above the fold. The message is as simple as it is bold: We’ve got a new iMac:
I know what you’re thinking: “They’re Apple. Of course they can do this. I have to have every one of my products on the home page, or my customers won’t find them!”
How’s that worked for you so far? Maybe it’s time for a change. Try putting your most important product front-and-center. Introduce the rest below, or through the site navigation.
The navigation is clear, easy to understand and (gasp) it makes sense. I want to buy stuff – click Store. I want a Mac – click ‘Mac’. I want an iPod – click iPod. Support? Lemme guess – click Support!
Next time someone tells you to use ‘What’, ‘When’, ‘Who?’ or something equally opaque, think about your users.
The design is simple, and focused on the iMac. But Apple doesn’t ignore the other stuff. Right below the major news of the day are the other new products, including the iPhone:
Awareness of Brand
Apple sells their stuff because it’s pretty, and simple, and elegant. Their home page matches their brand point for point. You can accomplish whatever you need to, from this home page, in 2-4 clicks. That mirrors the experience Apple is selling with their products.
Try to find the information you need on the web site of a certain competitor of theirs. 2-4 clicks? I doubt it.
Ever go to a movie and cringe while the main character explains why everything is happening (cue Phantom Menace, please)?
So many web sites do the same. Apple resists the urge: A clean headline, and five product images carefully selected to show you just how cool the iMac is. Then one simple headline: â€œYou can’t be too thin. Or too powerful.â€
The headline is clear – this new computer is thin, and it’s dang zippy.
No need to go on and on about 1 terabyte of storage, faster processors, etc. etc.. We can find that out when we make our next click.
No SEO, Either
OK, that’s not something most companies can afford: Apple totally ignores SEO principles, leaving all text off their home page. They’re Apple – they don’t need SEO, I guess.
But this page could be just as elegant with one or two simple, clean paragraphs of text between the iMac image and the rest of the page, or below the other products. And that would satisfy any search engine optimization issues.
And, in my book at least, overall internet marketing principles always trump search marketing requirements. Usually the two are in sync – you can’t market on the internet without search. Sometimes, though, the brand is so strong that you can get away with it. Apple’s one of those exceptions.
Lessons We Can Learn
On your home page, err towards simplicity. It’s the internet, after all – people can click to learn more.
Keep your marketing message clean and clear. Don’t confuse features with value. Demonstrate value first – communicate it with images. Then let your audience drill deeper to learn about features. You will never sell based on features alone.
Think about your audience. Sell to them. Speak to them. Don’t worry about the folks you’ll never win over.
Simple. Is. Better.
Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an internet marketing agency that has provided internet marketing, including PPC, SEO, social and analytics services, since 1995. Read More