“You can think of us as your website’s cosmetic surgery team.” - Baran Golocy, Norcal Internet Services
At first I thought this guy’s site design was just terrible, end of story. Then I saw a few people tweeting his link, and blogging about how its the worst website ever, etc. So then I thought… social media genius! Just think of all the link bait he’s getting! But then I checked out his other websites (below), and now I’m back to thinking that his stuff really is just that ugly and perhaps the fantastic buzz he’s getting is indeed unintentional.
So let’s think on this a bit more. I’m not designer myself. I have zippy art / design skills. I can’t even match my clothes for goodness sake. But pretty sites don’t necessarily sell products and services online. Think of the most successful online retailers. Hardly a list of nicest site designs. For most businesses, the focus should be on the product or service itself, and not the site’s layout and design which is simply the structure used to communicate the message. Amazon’s site design won’t impress anyone. Nor does 1800petmeds.com. But those guys make good money. As an SEO/SEM guy, I fully understand that while we’d prefer to have a visually-appealing site, the “is it attractive?” component takes a back seat to “does it generate traffic?” and “does it convert?” questions.
So back to our guys at Norcal Internet Services…
Success: He’s getting a ton of buzz, and a nicely done professional design would not. It would be boring, expected, or whatever and people would not be tweeting about it. And I think he does intend, at least a little bit, to be “just a little bit different” as he puts it.
Failure: Are you going to hire him to design your website? Your flash banner? Your walk-out video? Perhaps you might if you wanted the cheesey feel for your own social media campaign, but otherwise most of us would probably move on to the next guy. The quality of the video itself on some of the sites is pretty weak. If it was nice and clear and high-resolution – but just cheesey in nature – then sure I’d hire him. But only for a viral comedy piece.
So what’s the net here? I have to think that even though he’s probably not getting a high conversion rate, he’s getting more total conversions than he was before getting this buzz… But would he be better served to use a more professional, higher-quality design and presumably convert more (and/or better) prospects, albeit on a lesser traffic level?
Note: There are apparently at least two companies named NorCal Internet Services. They do not appear to be related. The one discussed above does walk-out video, email advertising, web design, etc. The other is an ISP. This post is only referring to the former, not the ISP.
Update 03/11/2010: I removed the link to the above site b/c apparently since I posted this someone apparently swiped this poor guy’s domain and put a not-so-family-friendly website there.