- Date: May 8, 2017
- By: Nick Barbera
Finding the top five manufacturers wasn't hard.
BizJournals.com did that legwork already:
The list of the 50 largest Milwaukee-area manufacturing firms is ranked by total employees working in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Walworth, Ozaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties.BizJournals.com
The Top Five
Based on that definition, our contenders are:
- GE Healthcare - who manufactures medical imaging, diagnostics and screening equipment.
- Johnson Controls - a manufacturer in the building, automotive and energy storage industries
- Rockwell Automation - a manufacturer of industrial automation equipment
- Harley Davidson - maker of motorcycles and related equipment and gear
- Generac Holdings - who make standby and portable power generation equipment
While they are all manufacturers, each has a unique business. The products are different, the business model is different, and the target for the website is different.
But there are lessons to be learned in each. Let's look through them one by one.
When you go to the home page of GE Healthcare the first thing you will see is a choice of country and language. GE has to do this because they are a global company that needs to communicate to multiple audiences on the web.
This is no small trick. Most businesses are challenged enough in keeping their one-language, one-county website up to date. Keeping up a global web presence an Olympic-sized communication and coordination puzzle.
GE chose to keep the overall design simple. A simple design helps accomodate content that might say the same thing in different languages but use a different number of words to get there.
If you are looking at website project involving more than one language, follow GE's lead and keep the design as simple as possible.
The primary design element you'll find on your first visit to the Johnson Controls home page is video. They've got a compelling story to tell might be difficult to pull off with just text and photos.
Video can be great for communicating, but you want to be careful about how you initiate it. JohnsonControls chose to display a limited view of the video first with no sounds. You have to click to get the entire video and sound.
This is a nice approach if your audience tends to be working in shared environments. Launching a video with sound by default would cause them to back out of the page so as to not annoy their coworkers.
Lots of industries. Lots of capabilities. Lots if products. For a corporate website this can only mean one thing - lots of navigation, because there is a lot of content.
Rockwell choose to implement what's called a "mega menu" - where clicking the top-level link reveals a page-wide navigation area consisting of multiple columns.
Mega-menus have done well in usability testing and are a great option if you have a similar amount of content.
If you've ever ridden a motorcycle you know - it takes more focus than driving a car. Harley-Davidson follows that lead with their website. The home page is strictly focused on the bikes and the people who ride them.
Are enough of your users really that interested in your latest press release that it should go on the home page? Or can you improve the experience of your site by radically focusing the content on the primary needs of your main audience?
Web user experience people talk about a five second test.
You get 5 seconds to get your basic message to a site visitor. 5 seconds to tell them who you are, what you do, and how you could add value to their world.
Generac pulls this off with a clear, succinct positioning statement that starts with "Our business is power".
Pretend you know nothing about your business. Never heard of it. Load your home page. Can you figure out the basics in 5 seconds?
If not, consider adding a positioning statement like the one on Generac's home page.
If you need help applying these lessons learned to your business website, shoot us an email. We'd be happy to review your site and come up with a plan for improvements!