Musings from Mike Atkinson on Internet strategy, usability, and more...

A dose of reality

Yesterday I had lunch with a potential uneek customer. He’s been in the mortgage banking industry for years and is now starting a coaching service for that niche.

As we talked it was evident that what he needs for a website is an online brochure, aka brochureware.

That concept is anathema to so many in the web world. Most people say brochureware with the same disgusted tone as they say FrontPage (or aFrontPage, as Vincent Flanders calls it).

While I’m with them on the opinion of FP, I have come to learn that brochureware is sometimes exactly what someone needs. Many small businesses can only afford that. And a static, professional-looking website with excellent content is a good representative for many organizations, especially non-profits.

These websites should work hand-in-hand with their printed collateral. Print brochures should push people to their website to acquire more, and deeper, information.

Of course, the rub in all this is that the brochure site must communicate a confidence and professionalism in their field with its look&feel and content. Rarely is that accomplished with the owner’s 2nd-cousin’s best friend’s aunt creating it in aFrontPage for $195.

Sidenote: Of course, a static brochure site can always make that jump to a dynamic site with regular article/white paper updating, email newsletters, blog(s) with RSS, community building, and much more.


  1. Would you agree that the less dynamic a web site is, the better it needs to look?

    If you’re going to go with a brochureware concept, it’s best to find someone who can design a very attractive and professional looking site. Because, if stuff doesn’t move around the screen, you’d better have GREAT design to make you look sharp.

    I’m thinking that blogging is a better option for some small companies – like mine. I can’t afford high-end design work on my brochureware, but I can provide new content every day on my blog, so I have started directing people to my blog as their initial connection with me.

    And in my work, knowing who I am and how I think, is probably more important than reading a list of things I can do.

    Good point, Mike, thanks.
    Jim Seybert    Saturday, August 27, 2005    #
  2. You: “Would you agree that the less dynamic a web site is, the better it needs to look?”

    Me: A much better way to put it! Spot on.

    And, yes, blogs can be a good choice for some companies. My only concern is that they don’t build out enough content about the company in the blog to help persuade new customers.
    mike    Saturday, August 27, 2005    #
  3. I think that like everything else, it depends on the organization. There’s a restaurant across the street from me, and I want to make them a website. It’ll have the logo, the hours, the address, the phone number, and a pdf of the menu, all on a white page.

    The restaurant is a dive. An honest to goodness greasy spoon joint where the burgers and fries and chili are amazing, and the rest is canned.

    The only people who go there are the ones who actually know what it’s like, and want to go there.

    When they go to the website, we don’t need to convince them to come. They’re already coming, they just need a menu and the phone number.

    And that kind of site I can do in less than an hour in exchange for a few burgers.
    Topher    Saturday, August 27, 2005    #
  4. “My only concern is that they don’t build out enough content about the company in the blog to help persuade new customers.”


    I see it quite differently. With each blog post and comments from the blog/company rep I get another little peek at the company.

    The real company, not the company presented in the “About Us / Services / Clients” sections. That “static” content is always way too polished, and it always sounds like someone is just telling me what I want to hear.

    It’s via blogging (if done right and done well) that I feel like I truly get any real glimpse of the company at all.

    In fact, communicating that “authentic voice” seems to be one of the biggest reasons a company would even consider starting a blog.

    I would think that, for someone wanting to start out as a business coach, a blog would be a perfect way for him to introduce himself, establish trust, thought leadership, and build goodwill by giving away a bit of his skills.
    Boyink    Monday, August 29, 2005    #
  5. Hey Michael: I totally agree with your assessment of the value of a blog in giving a potential client an increased depth of information.

    I also think that there are many people who just won’t take the time to sift through myriad posts to try to decipher the quality of the company. For those folks, the standard info (About/Services/Clients) usually meets their needs.
    mike    Monday, August 29, 2005    #
  6. Yep, so do both! ;)
    Boyink    Monday, August 29, 2005    #
  7. Exactly!
    mike    Monday, August 29, 2005    #
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