Black and Decker

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For whatever reasons, it disheartens me to see a firm almost get it right, but miss by virtue of the simplest of details. That is the case with Black and Decker’s demonstraVISION tours of its products. And what detail is Black and Decker missing? Control. Control by the viewer over certain important aspects of the online promotion and its presentation.

In this case, the viewer has to listen to the entire [and typically boring] voice-over product spiel before being allowed to take advantage of the site’s interactive features such as 360 degree rotations and zoomed views. There is neither a volume control nor a mute button. And, there is no clearly visible close button for the auto-opened windows. (Yes, that should not be an issue, but believe it is when I have seen computer users with 20 windows open because they are not shown how to close them.)

With only these “minor” details overlooked, I viewed just one product and backed out of that portion of the site. Exploring any further, and going through the same process each time, would be no fun at all. Even worse, it would take far more time than necessary were control given to the viewer. That means the site actually fails to provide any more information than might be gotten from almost any advertising medium, and maybe even less. That should never be the case with a firm’s online promotion and advertising.

What single, but most important lesson might be learned from these mistakes? Hand control over to the viewer. Take advantage of the very online technologies being employed. Allow the viewer to navigate as s/he pleases — unless your imposed navigation is both absolutely essential and engaging. This is the internet, not old-fashioned TV where one simply takes advertisements as dished-out. On the internet, the viewer takes [or not] as they please. If I do not wish to hear the sales spiel, but instead go directly to zoomed views, then that should be made possible. If I wish to go directly to product specifications, that should be only a click of the mouse away.

That said, have a look at Black and Decker’s Videos and Virtual Tours center. And although there are far fewer videos than lock-step product tours, the videos are offered as should be expected. None of the issues that hinder the product tours are present in the videos. It seems someone stopped thinking before the project was finished.

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