Getting you from A to B
I, similar to you perhaps, have visited and used 1000’s of different websites. Some of these set me on fire and had me coming back for more over and over, and some were just barely ok, answering my needs at the time, but hardly compelling, and a little underwhelming.
In the middle of course, there’s a whole bunch that have given me what I needed which I consumed and moved on.
Google’s a domain like this.
I use it, find what I need and leave.
Recently, Google have been trying to change that by drawing me in with other products, getting me to stick around on their domain rather than go off and use someone else.
One of the ways they do this is by answering the users query directly on the page.
The theory is that this way, users will be happier and will do more searches and make Google more money through more ad impressions and user clicks.
Similarly, sites like Facebook and Twitter, have people returning daily by virtue of the fact that people are interested in what their networks have to say; their friends, their family, their business associates and colleagues.
Many of us may have known these so called “sticky” factors for some time and many of us will have tried to employ them or variations thereof.
Some of us will have used email marketing, some of us have used competitions, some of us create kick ass compelling content that brings folks back again and again be it through the swerve of our editorials or the general cool of our tools. Some of use ads and offline media and some of us do the whole 360 degree marketing thing of doing it all – TV, Radio, Print with targeted granular solutions that seek to further refine the experience from folks coming to them from Desktop, Mobile or Tablet with further iterations for new and emerging devices.
Lots of folks will have built out social media channels and built apps for the android or apple marketplaces to facilitate their use with regular scrutiny of analytics and ongoing refinement of analytics and conversion data.
It’s a big beast.
We’re only small of course and we can only do a fraction of what some bigger companies do on a limited budget like ours. However, being small is actually an asset as we can move faster than most and get things up and running very quickly and outline our reasons for doing so in a clear and unambiguous way.
Ok, so “liking coding” is a valid reason for doing things as is “making money” , “building a team” or “getting users” but they’re hardly a good reason for being and alone just won’t grow a product or a user base worth having.
So a few days ago I was talking with a friend on Facebook about what it is that sets out a great website from a not so great website and asked the question “do you think a book exists that looks at all the little bits and bobs of what it is that sets apart the failures from the successes, the also rans from the winners” I kind of knew the answer already as it’s one of those kinds of questions that’s pretty multi dimensional with a myriad of competing theories that could easily drive an author or a reader a little nuts but I wanted new material and who better to ask than your friends or peers?
The short story outcome is that one of my friends shared a title called “Start with Why” and pointed to a video of a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek (the author) about what it is, (besides good product) that sets aside the Apples of the world from the MP3 also rans, what is it that compels us to buy their product over what are often much cheaper and in some cases superior products over those of their competitors? In any case, I’m not going to rehash everything he said (go watch it though) but I realised that for this project at least I just hadn’t defined the Why.
Starting with why for Distantias
Why are we here? What are we doing? What is the point of Distantias!?
There’s a 100 other map and directions type products out there and many of them are far more complex or multifunctional than us, but few if any have any soul and most just haven’t bothered to think about travel in human terms! They’re often mechanistic, lacking in character, too complex, plain boring, useless, featureless, feature bloated etc blah. The point is that few have any personality or offer use over and above some basic math type functionality which from the perspective of Google is a great excuse for knocking them out of its index and replacing them with its equally soul less offering.
Which tbh, was a bit of an “oh of course duh” moment for me because I realised that whilst I may well know exactly why we’re building this thing, the reality is that outside of a quick glance, few others would instantly see our reasons too. We’d just look like another distance calculator. Folks would have no idea what is we are trying to do and just wouldn’t engage.
So, since then, we’ve made a few changes
We changed our logo to reflect the why.
“We want to help you get from A to B and we want to help you find others who have done so already”
That single sentence, will now inform everything we do, code, features, blog posts, ads, campaigns….the lot.
It won’t happen over night, we’ve a long way to go, but over time our users will see the benefits of the why and engage accordingly, of that, I’m convinced.
Thanks Simon and thanks Gary.