Or, why I spent 20% more for essentially the same product because of a difference in website design.
When I say Rowboat Media is a mobile responsive website design company, I mean that LITERALLY. As in, your intrepid company founder and Chief Buck Stopper recently moved into a 43 foot long house on wheels. We take the term “location independent business” seriously around here.
When you tend to move around every few months, there’s this little thing called U.S. Mail that has to find a way to get to you. As Deborah likes to say, “wherever you leak, someone will hang a bucket,” and to that end, there is a class of businesses set up to help with mail forwarding / commercial mail receiving.
They’ll receive your mail and forward it to wherever you happen to be, so you don’t have to depend on family members who don’t even like you that much to do it for you.
What’s MOST important to us, however, is a service called “virtual mailbox” – the company will scan the envelopes of the mail they receive and you can tell them to either shred it, forward it, or open it up and scan the inside so you can figure out what you want to do about it. This is the service we value the MOST, because who wants to wait for a bunch of (mostly junk) mail to get forwarded and have anxiety about whether it will catch you at the right time?
A tale of two companies
A couple of months ago, I was evaluating two mail processing services, both located on opposite sides of the same state.
Company 1 was on the side closest to us, in a county that was more attractive to us for tax and insurance reasons.
Company 2 was on the complete OPPOSITE side of the state, in a county with slightly higher taxes and insurance rates. Plus, getting there to set everything up would cost a bit more due to the 400 mile difference.
(I have attempted to obscure the names of the companies, because I’m not into shaming.)
They both offered similar services, but the ONE thing I was most interested in – the virtual mailbox – was the real deal-breaker for me.
Company 1 – Outdated, not mobile-friendly, cluttered
Company 1 has an outdated, labyrinthine website that is not mobile-responsive and is no fun whatsoever to browse on the phone. The design was cluttered and disorganized, with a mishmash of typefaces.
I know how this happens – when a website is many years old and the owner just keeps adding to it, without admitting that a complete teardown is necessary.
Also, they made the poor decision to use the MOST valuable real estate on their home page for a holiday graphic – something that would be better posted to Facebook, not standing in the way of potential customers trying to do research. Predictably at this point…Halloween was a week ago.
While they offer a virtual mailbox service, it seems to be an afterthought, and the services they offer are buried deep within the fine print of the contract. You even have to go digging in there for pricing. Nowhere could I find any screenshots or examples of what it looks like to use their scanning service.
The overall sense I got was that if they aren’t well-versed enough in technology to have a website that looks like it was built after 2007, why should I trust them with my virtual mailbox in 2018?
Company 2 – Modern and Mobile Responsive
Company 2 has a fresh, modern, easy-to-navigate website that looks great on any device, has a consistent look and style from page to page, and right at the top of their Services list is “Virtual Mailbox.” The pricing is obvious and easy to understand, and they even include a video demo – no mystery as to what you’ll be dealing with when viewing and requesting scans of your mail.
Immediately I felt comfortable that they could handle the technical side of things quickly, competently, and dependably.
I did further research, talking to people who had used both services, etc., before making the final decision, but I tended to give more weight to negative reviews of Company 1 than the many positive ones I came across, because my gut decision had already been made.
I design websites for a LIVING and I know, in my head, that the quality of a company’s website is often completely unrelated to the quality of the company itself. But even old salts like me can be seriously swayed by appearances.
“The reality is that our decisions are not driven by data, they are informed by data and based on several variables beyond data, including somatic markers (intuition), past experiences, judgement and context.” – Source: DataHero
I knew that going with Company 2 was going to cost me more money up front and over time, but I’m a business owner too – and I just didn’t have the time to ignore my gut over a couple of bucks saved to have to worry if I was going to miss an important tax or financial document.