We’ve seen it all before.
Companies that have been around since before the dawn of the internet age trying their best to get up to speed, get hip, get locked in to the latest trends and techniques to help them deliver their message.
No one in charge reminds them that if their website is solely touting “experience” in the business, along with excessive use of freely available, uninteresting, uncompelling graphics and cluttered text, you’ve already lost whatever target audience or demographic you hoped to capture—and sadly, for a potential new client (or even an existing one contemplating staying or leaving), as soon as your home page loads.
In the case of financial reporting service companies, if your company’s website is playing up “experience,” the site is usually not intuitive, visually appealing and easy-to-navigate with useful links or containing helpful search engine tools; in effect, your web presence is unimportant to you.
I’d like to see RR Donnelley and Merrill Corporation make a run at WebFilings and other emerging niche XBRL reporting service companies—really, I would; if only for the simple fact that competition in the marketplace is healthy.
Unfortunately, the old school of financial reporting—Donnelley (http://rrdonnelley.com/) and Merrill (http://www.merrillcorp.com/), need a lot of work on their websites before they can shine in this regard like WebFilings (https://webfilings.com/).
What I mean by this is that if you type rrdonnelley.com and merrillcorp.com into your web browser, you will get the standard, less secure protocol, upon their respective home pages loading. Type in webfilings.com on the other hand and check the URL: it defaults to the secure protocol (https://webfilings.com).
Donnelley and Merrill may proclaim HTTPS access to their site is available.
I’m sorry, but in this case, WebFilings cries out by default comparison, “Come on in! Just like when you’re conducting your banking business online, we’re ready to accept your documents in a secure environment! We get that security is important to you!”
The site is just more modern-looking, too.
For those wishing to refute this as incidental, I beg to differ and say it matters.
If you don’t think so, then let’s return to the visual and intuitive aspects of all three sites.
Donnelley’s home page exclaims, “Look at us! We’re old! We’ve been around forever. Look at how many busy hyperlinks we have! Give us your business. We’re perhaps still important; maybe a tad boring, but we’ll get you there!”
Every time I go to Merrill’s website, I’m hoping upon hope that they will give it a freshening up. Again, like Donnelley, although they may still have some of the best and brightest IT minds out there, their web pages shout from the rooftops, “We don’t care about this that much, and yes, maybe we’re a little tired, too.” Merrill uses many of the same, stock graphics that have been around in one form or another on their web pages for most of the past decade. Could we please at least see an attempt to show you’re trying to keep up with the times?
When you finally go to WebFilings’ home page, it’s pretty clear they understand the concept that a visually compelling, secure and intuitive website delivers confidence and appeal to would be customers. Also, with links to their company blogs and Twitter, it demonstrates they understand the importance of social media in both our personal and professional communication lives.
Competition in the XBRL reporting services marketplace has never been fiercer.
Your website is your most important marketing tool.
The XBRL mandate is in its infancy. Companies wagering their futures by primarily hawking their “experience” in lieu of an online image that displays they “get what’s required today,” could be playing with fire.