The corporate website is an unbelievable collection of hyperbole, artificial branding, and pro-corporate content. As a result, trusted decisions are being made on other locations on the internet.
Definitively check out this great post by Jeremiah Owyang: Why your corporate website is irrelevant. Without going into the details (which you should read), Jeremiah concludes:
The corporate website of the future will be a credible source of opinion and fact, authored by both the corporation and community. The result? A true first-stop community resource where information flows for better products and services.
I agree, but I’d go one step further: The main point companies should use their websites for isn’t any kind of direct in-your-face marketing or branding, but simply: Extra services. Support. Feedback. Helpdesk-ish stuff.
Apart from looking at a product’s features and price (as J. points out: after the decision has been made), I want to go to a website to get first-hand info, background, and help. Something not working? Why do we have to dig through the dephts of bulletin boards, forums, blogs? How come I usually don’t even bother looking at the company website but go straight to the web to find the solution, the hack, the background info that will make their product work for me?
That, I think, will be the central aspect of the future company website. This is where companies can regain our trust. And maybe even our attention. Companies: If you open up and really tell us what’s good and bad about your products, we’ll drop by one of these days. Maybe we’ll stay to play with you.