Why most maritime equipment manufacturer websites don't serve their main purpose

With relatively few exceptions, the majority of maritime equipment manufacturer’s websites are failing the company behind them.

Navigate to any given equipment manufacturer website and you’ll spot some common trends. The website feels ‘old’, clunky and unclear. It’s not easy to use, or to find the information you’re interested in. Sooner rather than later you’re clicking away from the website and on to your next task.

Now imagine that you are a ship operator, visiting that manufacturer’s website to find a solution to a problem you’re experiencing.

Are you enquiring with that company, or exiting the website as quickly as you entered?

The approach of most sites is wrong

The underlying reason for the state of many equipment manufacturer websites is in the initial thinking behind the site’s inception.

In the not too distant past websites were seen as online brochures. They were there to ‘show, not tell’. They displayed what you offered, but rarely gave instruction on what you wanted visitors to do next. Like virtual Argos catalogues most sites seemed set up to best enable browsing, with comparatively few purchases being carried out as an end result.

Online brochures are nice, but won’t help you to grow

This ‘online brochure’ approach occasionally produces websites that look nice, but do little else.

Good photography or stock imagery does feature for some equipment manufacturers, but scratch below the surface and familiar problems become very visible.

Key questions ship operators are going to ask at some point too often seem to go unanswered, or with little thought. Consider how many equipment manufacturer websites easily answer the following:

  • How can I get more information?
  • How can I get some pricing?
  • How do I know if this is for me?
  • How can you help me, beyond selling me a product?
  • Does this address one of my problems, or can it do more?

This is why brochure websites typically don’t work for the companies that have them. Ship operators who do visit find that very little of the information they need to make a purchase is included. And, what’s more, even if that information is there, they sometimes can’t find it.

UX seems to rarely be given any considered thought

That’s because many equipment manufacturer websites do not give adequate consideration to user experience (UX) when it comes to the design and build of the website.

The overriding principle of UX-based design is to design and build something with the end user in mind. That sounds like a simple and obvious approach, but the opposite was true for such a long time that the entire concept of UX was needed to coach people towards the right way of doing things.

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UX puts questions at the heart of the user journey. Every user who visits your website has questions, such as those covered above. Answering those questions, and showing visitors where they can quickly and easily find those answers on your website, results in great UX. Great UX results in happy website visitors. Happy website visitors are more likely to enquire and purchase from you.

If you are a fan of Apple products then think about your user experience when you first turn on a new phone or iPad. From the slick packaging to the fact that your apps and contacts wirelessly sync when you place your new device next to your old, the entire experience is designed to be as pleasant as possible. We all like the experience and the evidence shows that we all keep purchasing Apple products. Your website should operate in a similar way.

How many leads is your website generating for you?

Ultimately the success or otherwise of your website comes down to the old sales mantra: ‘what have you got for me today?’

If your website was a salesperson - and your website is your main salesperson - then is it a top performer, or would it have been given the sack long ago?

Leads are the ultimate currency through which you must judge your website. If your site is not generating leads then for what purpose does it exist?

When we talk to equipment manufacturers we often find that their website is struggling to do that. Key tools are not in place to encourage leads. Visitor levels are low, perhaps due to poor SEO performance. What visitors there are, are ‘bouncing’ from the website after a small amount of time, because the UX is poor. The result? Very few leads. It’s time to sack your website.

Whilst that may be a hard decision to take initially, the end result of doing just that will ultimately be a hugely positive one for you and your company. Reapproach and reappraise your website as what it should be: a workhorse lead generation engine, there to work automatically and independently to grow your business.

Free your website from its humble online brochure beginnings and watch as it helps to power your firm onto another level of growth.