Is simplistic website design better?

by Raymond Santopietro Google

About three years ago I had a meeting with a marketing representative from The Wynn Casino and Resort regarding their social media programs. At the time, Facebook was just starting to be able to be utilized by businesses in an effective manner, and Twitter was being discussed as the next big thing in advertising. At the time, The Wynn wanted to utilize social media to create new revenue, mostly judged by how many additional rooms they could book by putting effort into different mediums. During the discussion, I talked to them about social media not being every effective as push marketing, and if you attempt to simply use it to give room information and coupons, then it will not be very effective. How many people do you know who will be happy about tuning in to a constant commercial? How many people will continue watching if there is nothing but commercials? Social media is the same thing, and you are going to need to invest in engagement, putting sales second. The Wynn did not understand this, and insisted on focusing on how many rooms we could predict will be booked through each platform, instead of a content development strategy. As I left, I tweeted “The Wynn will never be able to use social media effectively, their people just don’t understand how it works.” A few days later I got an email from another person at The Wynn who held a higher position than the person I had met with. They wanted to know why I would say this, because they had heavily invested in social media. I let them know that social media works differently than other forms of marketing, and the proof was the fact that they had just contacted me…..

The Wynn seems to be behind in the times with regards to understanding the concepts involved in online marketing. This is not an attack on their marketing teams, because most large corporations are actually behind in the times in this regard. The need for “provability” keeps experimentation in new mediums at a minimum until they are shown to work, and by that point the internet community is usually so saturated with other companies using the platform that the messages become diluted and ignored. The internet success stories are always involving the ones lean enough to make a decision while a platform is still untapped, and therefore being fully developed when it explodes. Marketing concepts online are in constant flux, and staying up to speed is the job of a great internet company.

The Wynn recently redesigned their website. A redesign was in order because there were many mistakes on the old site, made by attempting to over-reach into the technological end of the web without considering the customers. This was common a few years ago, when companies invested tens of thousands of dollars into flash design, creating websites that looked visually stunning but were very problematic because the users couldn’t load or navigate them properly. Flash was great for branding, and terrible for everything else including search engine rankings. Today, many companies are knee-jerking back to more basic coding on websites in order to be functional, but the Wynn has actually gone beyond the point of just creating a more streamlined code structure and allowed design to be compromised. Creating more basic websites does not mean that you have to create a site that looks like it was designed twenty years ago, and additionally to compensate for the very bland nature of the design the Wynn has decided to utilize nearly full screen video to explain the navigation of the site. The video itself slows down the load time, thus completely destroying any gains that were to be had by the layout compromise.

While there are obvious cues as to the strategy behind the redesign, like the use of giant type so as to allow those elderly or with visual problems to be able to easily see the information and the sue of easy buttons to see, more is lost than gained because it seems that they allowed these strategies to dominate their thought process when designing. It takes four clicks to finally land on many important sections, and it is as if the designers were thinking that to keep the front page clean it is fine to bury the conversions because people are searching for it. Nobody seems to have taken into consideration that there is a minimum of a 25% failure rate every time someone is asked to click something on a site. By the fourth click, you can assume the majority of your people have been lost. These types of mistakes are found throughout the website, and the online community is criticizing the website harshly.

While the next move is up to the marketing team at the Wynn, redesign the website again or try to fix the problems that currently exist, I can say that they will probably react slowly, or potentially not at all, because they may not even be reading the criticisms that are flooding blogs and social media worldwide. After all, they do not seem to be very good at understanding the strategy behind internet marketing….

This is not meant to criticize the Wynn team for their website. It is simply meant to inform them that they might need to look at it a little deeper, and that it could be working a lot better for them.

Your marketing needs “focus”…