What does website design and spirits manufacturing have in common?

Two different worlds, right?

Maybe not.

Like most people I’m on the Internet constantly — learning, exploring, researching, being entertained, buying stuff and on and on. More often than not, I get to a website and wonder, “What the hell were they thinking when they put this up? Why is it so hard to move around and find what I want?”

It’s fairly obvious that the problem lies in the “manufacturing” of some websites. They are either over designed or put up on the fly with low cost as the driving force. That’s part of the reason.

I think a more important factor is that the webmasters or designers are thinking of the “product” or what it takes to make it happen and don’t consider the user or the “consumer.”

They’re thinking manufacturing not marketing.

I once paid a visit to one of our main plants and spent a day or two explaining what marketing was up to and why our needs can sometimes be difficult to execute. At the same time, I wanted to learn how the products were made and “walk in the shoes” of the manufacturing people.

At lunch one day I got into a conversation with the plant manager. “You know, if you got rid of the embossed seven with the crown on top (Seagram’s 7 bottle), we could produce a hell of a lot more per day. Those things on the back sometimes knock up against each other, break and we have to stop the line to clean up.”

I pointed out that the brand was falling badly and the last thing we wanted was to mess with the heritage, identity and packaging. He explained that his mission was to provide the best quality product while keeping the cost of goods in line.

We got to understand each other’s agenda and from that day on, we worked in partnership matching consumer expectations with manufacturing excellence.

Above all, he was a consumer himself and understood brand equity from an end user’s standpoint. The same is true for many web designers. But, I believe there are also many who probably never visit the site they create after it’s up.

Maybe it’s just the ones I go to.

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  1. We in the marketing/advertising world call this “User Experience.”

    I think the websites you are visiting are a result of poor planning and poor communication. Clients and agency folks talk about a lot but very seldom talk about how they want visitors to interact with it. There is a lot of thought that should go into the creation of a website, it should convey the tone and personality of the brand.

    This was an interesting way to think about this. Thanks.

  2. Arthur, as always you cut straight to the chase(r). I’ve been evaluating websites for quite some time and have found there are basically four pillars of effective websites:

     Reasons for visit
     User expectations
     Website design
     Content

    The definitions of these tenets may not be what some designers expect, but what it takes to insure success. The focus has to be on visitor goals as well as those of the corporation. I wrote a paper with my findings, “WHY DO THEY ZIG WHEN YOU WANT THEM TO ZAG ON YOUR WEBSITE?” It’s on my website….www.treistmangroup.com.

    Enjoy, Joan

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