Evolution of a corporate web presence

Last week at Visible Measures, we unveiled a major redesign of our homepage, moving from a standard brochureware site, to showcasing our data first. While it took a lot of hard work by many teams, it’s not the first time we’ve been through this. Having piloted a number of these at VMC, it got me feeling a little nostalgic as I looked back on the numerous incarnations of our homepage, which I’ll share.

Version 1: Initial voice

Our first version, wasn’t pretty but it worked. It provided us to have something out there, which helped us legitimize the company as we went out to develop the business plans, and raise some seed funding.

What we did right: putting customer testimonials up front

What we could have done better: using an iceberg as a visual metaphor for showing more data beneath the surface

VMC Homepage: Version 1

Version 2a: Refined Positioning

With a few dollars in our pocket from our Series-A funding, we set off to make ourselves known. While we still wanted to keep things quiet, we knew the news of the funding would hit the wire, and we’d then be inundated with inquiries – so we wanted something that would really sizzle. As a result, we rushed something out that none of us were really comfortable with…this one lasted all of 48 hours.

What we did right: fresh new logo, trading the iceberg for an orange

What we could have done better: It looked very polished and professional, but it wasn’t us. We were measurement geeks and this one was uncomfortably glitzy for us, and said a little too much.

VMC Homepage: Version 2a

Version 2b: Refined Positioning

After the debacle of the previous version, we whipped up something more fitting by refactoring version 1, and developed something we could live with.

What we did right: all what we liked from 2a, but in a form we were comfortable with.

What we could have done better: Not spend the time obsessing over design, and going with this version in the first place.

VMC Homepage: Version 2b

Version 3: Cosmetic redesign

Somewhere along the way, as were recruiting new people and talking to bigger clients, we figured it was time to get something that looked more professional. So we bit the bullet and did another “quick” redesign that had improved colors, fonts, images, and messaging….but not much different in terms of substance.

What we did right: looked cleaner, cooler, and more like a bigger company.

What we could have done better: Not professional enough, but “good enough”.

VMC Homepage: Version 3

Version 4: Brand Launch

With a Series-B closed, it was time to really take the covers off and make a big splash to announce ourselves to the market in a serious way. As with the version 2 sites, this version came with refined market positioning and lots of additional assets.

What we did right: looked incredible – very strong and professional; revised messaging; a flexible web framework that enabled us to add on as we grew.

What we could have done better: For the time, this was a well thought out and coordinated effort to develop a site that lasted us a long time…well a year and a half is a long time here.

VMC Homepage: Version 4

Version 5: Data and applications take the lead

As the company’s positioning and value to customers has grown to become about industry ratings and benchmarks, more people look to us as a trusted source of those metrics. To answer that call, we decided to showcase our tools and data, front and center and for free. This would give the market a sample of what we have, and what we can do, rather than just telling them, as in previous versions of our site.

What we did right: driven by market feedback, and “walking the walk” with our data, rather than just plain old brochureware.

What we could have done better: time will tell…it’s only been a week, but I’m sure we still have a lot to learn about how it is received in the market, and what customers will actually want.

VMC Homepage: Version 5

What did we learn? It takes time and effort to do this right.

It’s helpful to look back sometimes, not only to see how far we’ve come, but also to figure out what we did right, and what we could have done better. Of course, e-commerce sites and other types of transactional sites, have a whole set of different issues, there are some universal truths that are made evident from this journey. Doing a real web redesign takes time, so only invest when you are ready to do so. The homepage is a reflection of your positioning in the market and an embodiment of your brand, so it takes time and coordination to get it right.

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