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How I Would Have Done This Rapp Collins Advertising Website


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It was Dec. 2005. I was a candidate for Digital QA Specialist at Rapp Collins. For my first in-person interview, I was told to answer "How would you make our site better?” I looked at and wrote 5 bullet points on the back of a napkin. When I read them to the VP during our interview, he grabbed the napkin from my hand and walked out of the room. Afterward, I didn’t have to crank out this .PDF, but I’m glad I did. It helped me get my job at Now that it’s 2014, I wonder if the principles still apply… what say you?

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How I Would Have Done This Rapp Collins Advertising Website

  1. 1. om RappCollins.comA web site audit. By Tia Dobi
  2. 2. Contents Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Introduction 3 Monetize a web site 5 Elements of Why Buy? The Website Review 6 TABLE OF Rapp. Or Wrap. 12 Summary + marketing musings A Masterpiece by Midnight The #1 way to better this site today 16 About the author 17
  3. 3. IntroductionThe purpose of this report is to respond to VP Interactive Robert Manning’s request: “Tia! What’s good, what’s bad and what needs improvement at” What’s good: Rapp Collins’ website offers comprehensive information about the company and its services. The visuals are good and clean. Although I wasn’t doing a professional proofreading on it, I spotted few typos. Some labeling needs better linguistics (copywriting). What’s bad: For a direct marketer, it doesn’t seem that the site acts like one. The site doesn’t tell me how to buy from Rapp Collins, nor is it written in a short pithy direct marketer style. Tonality seems bland (maturating what comes across as an overkill of information because the architecture weighs down the user-experience. Rather than lightning fast, or even moderately paced, navigating the site takes a tremendous amount of work. And lag is not a term usually associated with DR). How does this look to a 1st - time visitor? There is no distinguishing personality. From what I can tell, there’s no way to respond to Rapp via a survey (either to give my site user experience or to inquire for a quote or more info). I was expecting some sizzling sales writing. Didn’t find it. No obviously placed testimonials or stats: DR = all about the #’s. Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 3
  4. 4. Needs improvement: Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 4 There are many ways to improve this site and maximize ROI. Overall, it’s missing some basic sales savvy, navigation could be streamlined and it needs ways for the customer to connect/interact with Rapp. And reasons to keep coming back. First Ask: What issue(s) are your customers struggling with when deciding if/when/how to buy a direct response agency? Get these straight from the horses’ mouths and if you can solve them online – do it! Test specs: Computer: Desktop PC, OS: Windows XP Pro 2002, Browser: IE 6.0.2, Browser speed: 1.40 Mbps, Monitor: 19”, Screen size: 1024 X 768 pixels, Colour quality: 32bit. Caveat: This report has not been copyedited per time constraint. Thank you for the opportunity.
  5. 5. Monetize a web site. (Here’s my thinking going in to an audit.) Design = being smart, understanding who the customer is, what she’s looking for, which way his tendencies lean, what her needs are. Do they need you to make them feel comfortable? Do they need you to make them feel proud? Do they need to feel coddled? What a good websites does 1) It gives information, and builds credibility. 2) It builds the brand and allows you to earn off the brand. 3) It builds customer loyalty. 4) It allows customers to use it as a suggestion box. It’s not a perfect world and customers should be encouraged to let you know what can be fixed. 5) It should achieve basic marketing principles. 6) It should be solving a problem and aimed at a specific target audience. 7) It should generate its own income like any profit centre. 8) It should justify its reason for existing. “I’ve come to your site, I’m interested in direct marketing and you’ve just given me every reason to go away…I need you to reassure me that you’re the smartest provider in this space.” There are only 4 things a page can do for you: 1) Get someone to buy something NOW. 2) Get someone to give you their contact info NOW. 3) Get someone to tell someone else about you NOW. 4) Get someone to go to another page on your site (and that’s based on how well labeling and nav is). Pix, buttons, colours, text must have one of those four objectives. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t belong there. Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 5
  6. 6. On my Mark. Get Set. Go. From hompage: 1. Company name + logo of reasonable size? (Does the company have a logo?) What’s all that wasted space across the top of the page? 2. Missing: Tagline that explicitly summarizes what the site or company does. This can go in the page titling – use window titling space as (sales copy) selling space on each page. 3. Missing: USP – unique selling proposition – what the company does that’s valuable from the user’s POV, as well as how you differ from key competitors. Design makes an immediate emotional impact on a customer. a. RC is…Unlike other DM agencies… i. Oh! Here’s a start of a USP – in the Overview under News. And then how about describing how the agency’s consultative approach is new and fresh? (Customer’s thinking: proove it.) b. Suggestion: Create a signature story. People love stories, it helps brand. (Think: Superman and Krptonite.) c. I’m not getting any sort of feel for the personality/soul of RC. Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 6
  7. 7. 4. Homepage seems to be a clear starting point – although why Integrated Solutions + Portfolio pops up = a mystery. (Did I, as a user, evoke that? I don’t recall choosing those.) Most developers don’t think about content the way users do. 5. The site doesn’t seem to have one clearly designated page that serves as the official homepage – the look of the homepage keeps changing. a. This homepage is not clearly different from all the other pages on the site – can I recognize the intended homepage as the starting point when I dig down deeper into the site? i. Is it serving as a table of contents and a safe resting place? 6. Communicating @ the company = the nav links atop are good. However, what does Integrated Solutions stand for and how/why does it differ from Services? Labels – do we know what the labels mean? Or am I poking around feeling my way in the dark? a. Suggestion to reverse the link colouring: darker for clarity (otherwise it’s mystery meat navigation until/unless I roll over it). There is not enough contrast between the link labels and background. i. Links (on bottom) = confusing – what is Town Hall and City Hall and why should I care to find out? (This wording is connected to government activities…??) 7. Contact: Interesting twist (but do we care because reverse type rarely works in tight spaces) with giving the contact name/phone number on the rollover. Better: use ( ) for area codes and enlarge font size. I feel ONE contact us (which then linked to locations/contacts) would be better, more simplistic. I’m not sure I need two choices. Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 7
  8. 8. a. It’s confusing when there are multiple navigation areas for the same types of links. (Which way do I go? Which way do I go?) i. Bottom right: copyright copy is invisible. b. I ran into some problems with the contacts rollover popping up as I was reviewing the Portfolio pieces (arguably a big draw for $ales). Copy: Edit the entire site. There just seems to be elements that don’t add value… Go thru each and ask??? Is it confusing? Is it helpful? How could it have been better? What was the best part of it? i. As I was reviewing the “Do-Over campaign (fantastic foot with a nail in it!!), to my right was a lingering photo of a lovely lady from Dallas (under People) and the Best Buy logo (under client). How come? My brain needs to be focused on the Do-Over. 1. Oh! I clicked on “More Info” in the Do- Over campaign and some blue words describing its efx (although #’s sell…so how much ROI did the campaign pull?) popped up. Idea: Have this automatically come on the screen…not everyone is going to have the patience to read thru and click on “More Info.” (Too many “more info” on this site. There’s a better way to present the info.) 8. There’s a lot of wasted real estate space. Also, because of the large amount of space beneath the bottom links, it seems that there’s some sort of technical error or poor layout design rather than: this was built this way on purpose. a. If this is meant to be designed above the fold (one page) then lose the vertical scrolling. 9. I clicked on the Rapp Collins company name (top left corner). From a homepage, company logo/name should not be ‘hot’ (linked) on any website. (It’s the only time/place that link should not be hot, thereby designating IT as the sole homepage). Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 8
  9. 9. 10. Words moving on homepage makes them difficult to read. And certainly to: remember. Movement: the use of movement is best understood by the human brain for comprehension in certain circumstances: i.e.: 1) when movement best describes a product such as a combustion engine (or anything with moving parts – and showcasing this helps sell it). 2) Movie trailers or commercials shown in their entirety. 3) To inform, educate or train a process: examples. Movement for the sake of movement, as we see here, takes more of the user’s time and who needs/wants that? It’s like calling a friend, and always having to be put ON HOLD, even when that friend is sitting right next to the phone. And every time I visit I don’t have a choice…I have to ‘wait for the site to do its thing.’ And if that’s not my thing…I’m outta here and looking for a company that can service me NOW. There simply doesn’t seem to be purpose for the words moving. Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 9 11. Nothing sells like $uccess. And food. Why not put a big juicy logo or food shot form the new account in Big D on the homepage (why hide the goodness?) 12. Locations: Oh…so much work (again) just to find out where y’all are located. If it doesn’t help it harms – pick every element on every page and ask ?? Is this helping my customer to do 1 of the 4 tasks mentioned on page 5? If yes, keep it. If no, lose it. No matter how pretty, how busy, how plain it may be. a. Typo: Change Bld. To Bldg. (under California.) b. DC, Chicago, Seattle, Canada(s), Mexico = links didn’t work.. c. Font size of office address = tiny = illegible.
  10. 10. 13. Interactive: With all the interactivity Rapp built into this site… when I got to the Interactive pices in the portfolio… they weren’t. 14. Services: Teleservices. Ouch. Rapp offers one of the best and largest in designing these… who knew? Who could know? Who calls a call center teleservices? (Unless you really do shout out “Somebody call me a physician” when you take a fall.) 15. Clients: There’s not enough differentiation between what’s choosing (where I am in the site) and the list in the left nav bar. It took me awhile to get the brown bar as a designator. (Brown is somewhat flat.) I couldn’t readily see where I was within the site. Answer this question: Why buy from us? a. After reading about the success with Mercedes, I was salivating to see the same site that was voted Best Automative Web Site by JD Powers in 2004. But I couldn’t. Because there was no click-thru. b. What is the wasted white space to the right of the MB logo? (Lost $$) 16. Integrated Solutions: Oh my. I felt like I was reading/ working/navigating a chemistry textbook. Perhaps there is a more user-fulfilling way to communicate this great message because it’s obvious Rapp Collins has a system that works. 17. Use short pithy copy. Portfolio – Print – Toyota: analytic models, owner propensity, migrate. Try: “Here’s how we kept consumers in the loop about ___ and made Toyota alotta money along the way.” 4th grade English = the conversational lingo of DR. 18. Use the #1 sales tools in the world: testimonials. Can put slowly (slowly) rotating ones on the hompage and then others throughout (that match the message) or in the empty white space next to client logos under Clients. (If they’re on the site… this means it took searching before they were found/read.) Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 10
  11. 11. 19. Services: When I click on More Info, there isn’t any. a. Font is fuzzy (small). b. Marketing Technology: Interesting that Forrester (Research) was defined, and the Award acronyms under Creative were not. 20. People: Would be nice to know which office everyone is in (no context). a. Because the name (and Bio) is in blue, I thought I could instantly click-thru and send an email. I was wrong. (Users don’t like it when something doesn’t work the way they expect it to.) b. Studies show that full-colour photos of the human face are the #1 seller…at least one of the photos was a little fuzzy. Moving photos that work. 21. Career: Specific job descipts = missing. DR professionals (more than anyone) know that building the resume to target the position specs is key. Rapp may be missing out on receiving more qualified applicants because ‘people can’t buy what they can’t figure out’. Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 11
  12. 12. Rapp. Or Wrap. Brand Promise and Attributes: The main identity is ____? What is the ONE underlying message associated with Rapp Collins? Do you know how your site’s traffic ranks against the Internet as a whole? How about against your competitor? Do you know the 32 most popular sites that link to yours? Do you know what sites are visited by people who also visit Rapp Collins? What is your USP and how are you going to really use that to hit the heart of the customer? USP + Value Design = winning combination. Does it take into account all of the offline efforts that resonate with the customer to sell its opportunities and offerings? Are you the smartest provider of this type of service? Do I have to search for product, service, rate? Are all the things that I’m looking for as a customer there without me having to look/work for it? What are you as a business trying to achieve? Have you made your prospect the star? And your product the hero? Detail Findings Target Audience The audience is anyone who wants to send the sale of product through the roof. This is not so much an overt message, but made clear by Rapp Collins’ huge success in the marketplace. This position within the marketplace however, should be upfront and center. Partnerships and Relationships The firm is part of the Diversified Agency Services division of Omnicom Group. Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 12
  13. 13. Message Consistency We don’t know what Rapp Collins’ color scheme and design presentation is across other forms of media. However, the lack of color change, and overall ‘sameness’ for each area of presentation lacks impact, and, rather than differentiating the subject matter, blends…there is no memory with blending. Content Areas and Organization Write down categories and content and ask other people to organize them. Or ask them what do you think you would find under this category with this label? (Integrated Solutions, Links = too broad) How do you organize 400 articles in categories and titles? Go to customers and let them do it for you (rubber bands, index cards). Do you put things where your visitors are looking for them? Flatter customers. Invite them to join a customer advisory board (extra incentives, discounts for friends, create a small panel of customers when you have new ideas, challenges or ?? you can get them to participate – a test pool – let them help craft the messaging and offering). Improvements – ask them would you choose these? Enhancements – if you had $1500 to spend and here’s a list of what you could spend it on, which would you choose (give each a dollar value)? That’s what’s important to them. Tasks: ordering something, filling out a form, searching, how easy was it to order from us today-follow up email, survey, letter-the trick is to make the task very specific and ask them how it went. There could be a survey on this site-how helpful was this site in determining if Rapp Collins could be the company for you? Look at competitors offer, ideas, test ideas on your own customers. Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 13
  14. 14. Functionalities What about a calendar in the clients’ section that allows clients to track events/progress on projects? How can a user obtain a quote? Search features? Navigation Structure and Labeling There is no sense of hot promotion or link to any ‘hot spot’ or ‘call-out’ prevalent with DR. While the top level navigation is clear, individuals do not always know what section they are currently in. Style and Tone Written: More enthusiasm and support could be injected into the copy. You are not your customer. How can the pages be made to be more conversational? Visual: Rapp Collins is somewhat a visual assault on the senses – albeit a mind-mannered one. This is because the bulk of the page space is cluttered with different colors, shapes, and text which makes the context/concepts difficult to readily grasp. No clear flow for reading page contents. Branding link? Site uses dull colors. Muted/faded background creates a lackluster look and feel overall, which could negatively impact/lesson the high achievements of the firm and their portfolio. Is layout open and encouraging; layout encourages readability? The home page is organized in groups. However, they do not feel as though they are part of one unified page, rather discrete chunks that do not relate to one another. Competing elements Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 14
  15. 15. Visual (Con’t) What’s most important on the page? Think in elements of: 3. Enough white space to give eyes a rest and let elements stand out. Are there things not helping and a lil busy? Least amount of stuff on a page to get them to do the 4 things. Technical Design Images are crisp and clean. Is site optimized for modem download speeds? Rollovers on homepage (reverse colouring). Error pages not tested. Additional Insights How does market itself? Free Content – Newsletter. Reason to opt-in? Privacy policy within proximity? [We hate spam as much as you do.] Ask for the sale in an appropriate place. Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 15
  16. 16. Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 16 A masterpiece by midnight. Take the off-the-wall stats of success Rapp Collins has for its clients and place these in a slow scroll at the top right on the homepage. (#1 way to better site today) Consistently generated response rates well over 50%... We produce 800 million pieces of direct mail for _______ clients generating $_____.
  17. 17. Author: Tia Dobi <> © 2005 Page 17 layton About the author Tia Dobi has two 4-letter words etched across her forehead: “Just sell.” Wildly diverse experiences means she's worked with rock stars & concert promoters, film producers, pro-ball players, defensive driving instructors & race car drivers, national news anchors, e-Power broadband trailblazers, 5 star generals, free-money-from-the-government program experts, designers of tall buildings & the bankers who finance them, O.S.H.A. safety inspectors, JCAHO healthcare providers, big cats, little people, librarians and tuxedo factory lint pickers. She has lived in 3 countries inside the US borders (Texas, NY, L-A) and 3 countries outside (South Afrika, London, Tokyo). Which makes her conversational with most (and some don’t mind when she spells color: colour). A member of six library systems, Tia reads 1.5 books a week, takes tea with David Ogilvy, Robert Bly, David Garfinkle, Claude Hopkins, Joe Vitale, Jay Abraham, Dan Kennedy, C Makepeace, Joe Sugarman, search engineer Danny Sullivan, branding agent Tom Moser and Click and Clack “The Car Guys” from NPR. All while carrying a photo of usability guru Dr. Jakob Nielsen in her breast pocket. She learned the mastery and magic of how to monetize websites i.e.: keywords that pull like magnets .and avoiding the misery of e-commerce site usability such as: "You are not your customer" "No mystery meat navigation" "Avoiding maddening motion" and "Design drift" with a certificate in web development & design by completing a one-year program in August 1999. And continuing to study DR ever since. “When you feel good, your life is good.” Tia meets David Ogilvy’s recipe for success: “A good Interactive QA Specialist must be well- rounded.”
  18. 18. F I N I