You Aren’t Google

You’re not Apple either.

As a small to medium-sized enterprise there is much that we can learn from those at the top of the business world. But, this doesn’t mean that you should copy what these companies are doing online simply because they’re good at what they do.

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard the marketing directors of client organizations, or even my agency superiors at former employers say “Why can’t we just have a blank white page with a search box in the middle? It works perfectly! Look how many people visit Google!” (this also tends to be the same argument many people have for Google having such a cruddy logo, but I digress…) Or, “How come we can’t have a huge graphic in the middle of the page and four graphic boxes beneath it? Apple does it and they are the best in the world!”

The fact is, Google is a destination site because their search works better than anything else out there and the tools they provide are well-thought out, easy to use and technologically innovative. Your small tourism business in the middle of the province does not have the same requirements as a search engine or computer and MP3 player manufacturer. Nor does it have the reach, online/offline marketing budget or client-base.

The design of Apple’s site is fitting because their products are minimalistic, modern and clean-looking. The form of the site follows the attributes of Apple’s brand and product identity. As I tell people in my talks, just because there isn’t a lick of text on the Apple homepage doesn’t mean that you have that luxury. Search engines need this textual content to help find you. They already know where Apple is. They’ve likely barely heard of you until now by comparison.

Similarly, Google’s site follows the functionality and mantra of their brand which is primarily no-nonsense search. Getting you straight to the search box without much to distract from this function is core to the Google experience. I don’t necessarily agree with how buried the other functions are on the site, but generally, if you need them, you can find them through their search–again, core to the brand values and experience.

It’s important to recognize that, while you’re not any of these companies, what you are is likely just as special or important, simply on a smaller (and entirely different) scale. And your business has specialized needs and requirements. Your design and development team should help you to find these unique elements and enable you to exploit them in a way that benefits you within your budgetary constraints.

I am forever extolling the virtues of pragmatism (it’s my favourite of the semiotic triad), and this is another case where context is king. Focus on delivering a quality experience given your unique strengths and accept the fact that you aren’t the same as the current enormous technology giant.

Chances are, you’re better for it.

Previously posted on


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