The Here Earbuds are one of those products that make you sit up and go, "Why didn't I think of that?"
You stick them in your ears, and listen to the world around you. That’s it. You don’t use them to play music, and they aren’t noise cancelling. The idea is that they take the world around you and amplify it, making it crisper and clearer and sharper. You can add effects (using the inevitable app) and using EQ to personalise your listening. The buzz is that is the closest thing to having auditory superpowers, and although I haven’t tried a pair yet, I think they may just live up to the hype. And they're going to be great for live music.
I’m not here to talk about the earbuds, though. I’m here to talk about their website.
It’s an example of a website that does almost everything right. It presents the web equivalent of the earbuds’ audio, in that it’s clean and simple and easy to work out what’s happening. You come away from it not only knowing all there is to know about the product, but also feeling like you’re going to buy one. More and more websites (including ours) are starting to use this kind of design, and the days of clunky webpages with badly-designed layouts are a thing of the past.
Oh wait. No, they’re not.
That’s the main page of Yamaha, who make some stellar products like A/V receivers. They are one of the biggest manufacturers on the planet, releasing great pieces of kit every year. They have so much money that they probably don’t even need a website. And yet they have one, and it’s appalling, and we can’t figure out why.
Imagine you’re a potential buyer, looking to find a new amp. Now obviously, we advise you use our excellent roundups to pick one, but let’s assume for argument's sake that you Google Yamaha and land up on their website. The second you click, your eyes are assaulted by the visual equivalent of that Kendrick Lamar track where he lets his jazz section go a bit nuts for thirty seconds. It’s just insane noise. It’s as if Yamaha couldn’t make up their mind about what to put on their front page, so they decided to put absolutely everything there. My favourite part is the little box labelled Upcoming Events. ‘Information will be coming soon’, it says. What, you’re going to put more stuff in? Is there space?
So many big A/V brands do this. Their hardware game is crazy, but their online game is just pathetic. They have truly fantastic, game-changing products, and absolutely no interest in online strategy.
Here’s another one:
So the future is here, is it LG? Does the future involve having Liam Neeson apply electrodes to my chest? Because right now, that’s what I need to actually get my heart beating again. I mean, just…why?
There’s no excitement here, no sense that it would be good for potential shoppers to come away feeling like they’ve learned something, no desire to do anything but present them with a vast catalogue of options. It’s crappy and shortsighted, and it’s going to come back to bite these companies in the ass.