After years of building and maintaining basic websites for our business, we asked ourselves what would happen if we didn’t have a website. The answer led to us tearing down our existing site and doing something else instead.
Over the last few years we have put together different websites based on templates. Our last one was built using Jekyll and hosted using Github Pages. However it looked like it was built by somebody’s nephew for a school project. OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad…but it certainly wasn’t good.
In fact, our website was a source of mild embarrassment.
Rather than start looking at improving the website, we decided to ask a more fundamental question — do we need a website at all?
More precisely, do we need a “me too” website. It seemed to us that websites for companies like ours tend to be mostly about marketing or sales blurb. Anyone who knows us will tell you that we have no interest in blurb.
What we did next
It turned out to be a pretty easy decision to abandon the typical website format. We figured out that a better representation of who we are is a collection of writings about the topics that matter to us and a place to explain the work we do.
Our solution was as follows:
- A landing page with a one-liner about who we are — this is https://snappmobile.io.
- A Medium publication with articles about our interests and projects — this is https://medium.com/snapp-mobile.
Why did this make sense?
Our solution reflected the following principles that were important to us.
- Substance over sales — we want articles vs swanky web pages.
- Utility before beauty — we value an easy way to publish our writing vs creating alluring imagery.
- Simplicity not sophistication — we are better at creating content than unique web designs.
- Weniger aber besser (Less is more) — we felt we should speak our minds vs pitching a sales story.
This is why we went for Medium.
- It is simple. We wanted anyone at Snapp to be able to write an article with no fuss.
- Limited customisation. We didn’t want to get lost in tweaking templates or writing code. Medium has enough customisation without us getting carried away.
- Publications are a great way to collaborate. We love the fact that our team can write articles that they ‘own’ and contribute them to our Medium publication. It fits with our goal to value “personal reputation before company reputation”.
We accepted that there were some downsides too.
- Custom domains are no longer supported by Medium.
- We have to cohabit with the Medium branding.
- Visitors to our landing page have to ‘hop’ to another site. It feels a bit crude.
What about SEO?
Using a Medium publication does nothing for SEO to drive traffic to snappmobile.io. But so what?
Our goal is not be the #1 result in Google searches. This doesn’t fit with how we run our business anyway.
One size fits all?
Whilst this approach feels like a natural fit for our core business, we are still experimenting with our web presence for the products we are building.
Social Steps has a landing-page type website. For TablePlanner we are giving Wordpress a go with the intention of creating a more content driven website. WIth ShutterPoints we are still deciding how to proceed.
When it came to addressing how to improve our substandard website, we took the opportunity to challenge the conventional approach to have a slick marketing website.
We decided that an authentic website for Snapp was best realised as a collection of articles about topics that interest us and explanations about some of our projects.
This alternative line of thinking led us to killing our website. We left a landing page in place as a destination for our domain. The rest of our web presence now resides as Medium publication.