I just read a post on One Degree called: Recommended: My Favourite Agency Website Of All Time (For Now) by Bill Sweetman. Let me start off by saying that Bill is a great guy. I've had the pleasure of getting to know him over the past year and he really gets the interactive space, but I'm not sure I agree that Whatever Media has a great (or even good) website. And I say this out of a lot of personal experience (and pain) with our own, Twist Image, website.
Yes, I too admire the simplicity of Whatever Media's website. It's a Flash intro with a cute comment and an info@ email address.
Not too long ago Twist Image had almost the exact same website - a simple landing page with a link to some of our work and that was it. I too used to let people know that we were the "shoemaker's kids" - always too busy making shoes for everyone else and we were barefoot.
I learned a huge lesson - time and time again - and it's based on this principle: it's not what you know or what you don't know - it's what you don't know that you don't know that will kill you.
Is that confusing? Read it over a couple of times.
Twist Image, like Whatever Media, is successful. Most of our business is also through word-of-mouth or referrals, but over the years I have heard comments like this (from very big companies) and it hurts:
- "We were looking at using you but when we went to your website and there was no information we were let down."
- "I saw you speak and then I brought my CEO to your website and we could not believe that there was nothing there. We went with another company."
There are more (sadly). So while I don't doubt that Whatever Media is successful, I know (from many personal experiences) that Twist Image missed many opportunities (some, to this day, that I don't even know about it) just because we did not put some content up there. Even if it's a sample of the work, some details as to the companies' management and level of expertise. You don't need a lot of content to do it.
The Twist Image solution was two-pronged - a simple website (Who, What, When, Where, Why and How) and this Blog. We get the corporate information out on the Twist Image website and use this Blog to let people hear our personal voice and keep them in the loop.
I'm not saying our way is the only way.
I am saying that over the past few years, people have found us through our website (and this Blog) and that we have been asked to pitch (and even won new business) from major clients by simply having a website that validates all of the great word-of-mouth and referrals that have been happening. So maybe Whatever Media's current website has not "stopped the firm from getting lots of business over the years," but I know that there were plenty of opportunities that came knocking at Twist Image and left because of our old website (that's the "you don't know that you don't know that will kill you" philosophy from above).
Last point: how many people do research online before buying a product or service? That's the one that should really keep you up at night.
I'm also agreeing with Bill - some people really over-do it.