Software for Pre-CAD systems design

Validating product interest

How quickly can customers evaluate product suitability?

Suppose a potential customer visits a manufacturer's website, but they are unsure whether the products are suitable for their application. What can a manufacturer do to validate their interest, to reassure them that the manufacturer's website and products are worth evaluating and worth sharing with their development team? While that customer could call, chat, or email an application engineer, those portend tedious interactions that may or may not answer their questions.

Instead, here are three levels of interest validation you might incorporate into your website:

First: make information correct, consistent, and accessible

When sourcing products it is always annoying to have to push through the many different ways that manufacturers and industries represent the same product information. Is it backlash or relative position error? Measured in wavelength, frequency, or energy? These differences in convention are not solely a manufacturer's responsibility, but they are opportunities to reach out to customers and meet them in the framing they are familiar with.

Units are the most basic example of an area where industry and company norms vary widely, yet it is easy to offer information in whichever unit system your customer prefers.

Similarly, there are many good ways to show the differences between products, to provide simple tables that allow visitors to see how features vary across model numbers.

Relatedly, if the interpretation of a chart matters, then it is important for a manufacturer to take modest steps to make the chart readable and useful. Displaying a poorly-scanned chart from a print catalog undermines confidence in its application, while an interactive chart increases confidence.

Likewise, it is not difficult to display 3D models of products; frankly, the harder part is producing and correctly naming product variations.

Details matter in communication; providing these small UI features at the first interaction shows that manufacturers value clarity and accuracy, and will continue making the effort to understand and satisfy the customer's needs.

Second: standard use cases should sell themselves

What prevents a manufacturer from making buying guides for common applications? Make them exact, showing the calculations and their interpretations and where the remaining risks actually lie.

Customers are coming to a manufacturer because manufacturers should know how their products perform in the field. They are not expecting ideal performance, nor are they looking to become experts on the products themselves. Make content that tells them whether their use case is normal or risky in any way. Having done this initial, scoping evaluation, both manufacturer and customer will see the need for engaging an application engineer.

Mechanomy can help manufacturers create these interactive application guides and other forms of content, just send us a description or example to start a conversation.

Third: develop and release simulations of real conditions

Especially those that confirm or disturb mental models.

Simulations can be used to communicate edge cases and failure modes, creating a common palette of phenomena whose effects can be jointly considered. These explanatory simulations are akin to taking video of the specific phenomena, except that as simulations they allow full inspection of the system internals and linking to product parameters. The resulting simulations are useful both externally in sales and internally in design. Because these attempt to capture reality in a significant way, their development is more involved, and the result far more useful.

Say hi to explore what's easy, what's hard, and what we can do together.

In summary

When a potential customer visits your website, the first value you can provide to them is to show them that their interest is valid and worth spending additional time exploring your products.

Mechanomy authored these libraries to help manufacturers communicate with their customers. The pages linked above detail each and should provide you with everything you need to evaluate their functionality, but as general applications they are necessarily limited in how they can be customized to fit your website's existing theme and goals. If you would like us to tweak an application to better match your website, send us a quick description. We can also support specific interactions and add more advanced functions, reach out to start a conversation.

We also understand the common and usually warranted frustration with website investments, that visitors are few, brief, and overwhelmingly uninterested in your company's products. If you have some time to chat, we would enjoy sharing our analysis of the motivations of visitors to manufacturing websites and provide a couple suggestions for how you can better define and evaluate your website's performance. We believe that websites and other digital tools can be used to manufacture value, but like every physical tool they must be designed well and wielded correctly.

We'd love to help you.

— Ben Conrad