30 Aug Design Content for Customers, Not Yourself
Corporations spend billions of dollars developing new product lines, and invest millions more creating glossy materials to brag about their products from every possible angle. A trained sales force and educated consumers are critical to any company’s success, but the unnecessary complexity of new product information often slows adoption, hinders education, and takes time away from selling. It also makes it painful to be a consumer.
As someone who simplifies product details to train sales people inundated with too much information and guide customers through various product options, it’s a great lesson to be on the consumer end.
Case in point: my own personal experience remodeling my bathroom. I compare it to the process of buying a car, only you have to shop for seat cushions, mirrors, headlights, windows, paint, carpet, an engine, tires, hubcaps and an HVAC unit each from different vendors, none of whom help you coordinate options.
One painful component of my remodeling experience has been picking a shower system. Overwhelmed by all of the manufacturers, I started with Hansgrohe. They have a great reputation and a beautiful website with downloadable catalogs, videos, and numerous images of happy people showering.
On their website, I selected Products > Shower Systems. Easy enough. First it asks me to chose a product line, Axor vs. Hansgrohe. What’s the difference? No clue.
I select Hansgrohe, which has only 13 (!) sub-line options. Then it asks me to select from Croma Select E or Raindance S, Raindance Select, etc. What’s the difference? Again, a mystery. The Raindance series offers a 150E vs. a 120S. Both with 3 settings. Is the higher number better in some way? More powerful? A newer model? Even with a comparison checklist, no differences appear.
Like many companies, their product information is designed around their own cryptic product lines, not around me as a consumer. It’s a shower head. It shouldn’t be this difficult.
What I would do to help Hansgrohe (who has succeeded in spite of, not because of, their product complexity)? First, I’d determine what makes the shower experience different. What would make me want a square shower head vs. a round one? Is one lighter? Does it use less water, does it have a softer spray? Does a 12″ rain shower get me cleaner faster than a 10″ rain shower?
The Goldilocks approach would work here. A lower-end, less expensive model, a medium-level model that suits most needs, and a high-end luxury model with more buttons for those who must have the very best. Simple.
I know. This is America, where choices should be plentiful. In the meantime, I remain without a shower head, but my brain is filled with ideas for simplifying the product selection process…and saving oodles of money on marketing collateral…if they choose to listen to me, a potential Hansgrohe customer.