siteIQ - The Business of the Web

5 things you probably didn’t know about*

2012 | Strategy |

Since we added to the siteIQ eBusiness Index this year, I’ve been dying to get my hands on its evaluation results. They just came in last week.

Just for the record, I’ve always been a big fan of It has all of the hallmarks of an Apple product. Simple. Innovative. Easy to use. And, a visual tour de force.

That’s why I was amazed when I saw how it scored based on our best practice benchmarks. Let’s just say that I almost fell out of my chair.

Here’s five things that you probably don’t know about

1. There’s no social media. Given that Apple has a gazillion acolytes & groupies, you’d think that this site would be jam packed with social media. Go ahead and look. No links. No likes. No connections of any kind.

2. A feather-lite community footprint. In a world where product managers & execs are using communities (and corporate blogs) to discuss their company’s vision, strategy, and products,’s communities are limited to the classic break/fix support genre (which are tracked in the support section of our benchmark) — and a savvy set of buyer communities dedicated to moving the purchase process along.

3. Events. What events? Earlier this year shot its events zone in favor of promoting local events on its store pages. Intrepid surfers can still find old events using search. Other than that — nope, nada.

Earlier this year shot its events zone in favor of promoting local events on its store pages.

4. Services marketing & industry marketing are no shows. To be fair, tries a passing glance at education in its Mac section, which does a fair to middling job of promoting education-centered apps. Other than that, is a general-purpose marketing machine. As for services, they don’t have a home on To the extent they exist, they are promoted on the landing page for each of Apple’s retail stores. Not much there, either.

5. Training is DIY.’s training & education footprint is the size of a newt, nestled in the site’s support zone under the moniker “Video Tutorials”. To be fair, probably doesn’t need a robust training area. Installing and using Apple products is fall-off-a-log easy – and mission critical anythings are few and far between.

The Bottom Line

And what about the rest of the site? A view of evaluation results by category will tell you an important thing. is the pluperfect example of Steve Jobs’ lifelong mantra about “doing a few things well”.

In a world where most Websites must serve at least 20 masters, is laser focused on five things.

    1. Creating calls to action and promoting ecommerce/purchasing are front and center.
    2. Innovative and interactive design elements rank second – and
    3. Support, (4) search, and (5) product marketing complete the picture.

Everything else – especially corporate amenities — takes a back seat. is focused on five things. Everything else -- especially corporate marketing -- takes a back seat.

Of course, the devil’s always in the details, and that’s why I’ll be posting a new case study in the Library that drills down into’s strengths and weaknesses – and why it might not be the right muse for your Website.

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I focus on strategy and trends – and how the Web turns business rules on their heads. My job is to identify the Web-related trends and best practices that will change your world over the next 18 months. Where you need to cut through the clutter of conventional wisdom. How to change the competitive rules of the game. More gory details in my profile -- and unvarnished opinions about the sites we evaluate on Google+
  1. Roberta Petrin Reply

    Hi Marty – i had to comment on this post about Apple. What I think this illustrates is that Apple doesn’t engage in the fluff that most large companies think they need to do. They are focusing on what their business is about: providing streamlined, easy-to-use products.
    Why put any kind of training on a site, when you’ve got the genius bars that will interact one-on-one with customers? Frankly, that kind of training is sometimes better, and from a sales standpoint, it’s one more way to cross sell.
    Why have social media on your site, when everyone is already debating the merits of PC vs. Mac on all the other boards/blogs/sites/comments, such as CNET, ZDNET, and others.

    The events and community foot print also are handled by Apple elsewhere – the much talked about annual event that Steve Jobs conducted was broadcast and available on YouTube – it sort of redefined the company vision every year.

    In short, what I’m trying to say is that I think Apple hits it the nail on the head with their philosophy of “doing a few things well”. Sometimes, less really IS more! I admire companies who know what they are about and keep their focus on that, without fluff or having to include every bell and whistle technology offers, just for the sake of having it. If only more companies would follow their example.

    • Marty Gruhn Reply

      Hi Roberta. I absolutely agree with you that Apple keeps its site laser focused on its role in the company’s marketing and brand strategy. No stakeholder tantrums going on here. One of the things I most admire about this team is the discipline it brings to its online footprint.

      That said, I don’t think that most companies can follow in’s footsteps. For starters, it’s a five product company (with the rest being variations on a theme), so the whole business model is a lot less complex than other technology companies. And to quote a friend of mine, how much marketing and training do you really need for a product that has one button?

      That’s not to say that there’s not plenty to learn about the power of KISS designs and how to create great experiences (such as the interactive demos that start when you scroll down the page — in a word, breathtaking). IMHO most sites we evaluate could learn a lot from Apple about how to wrap their site around how the customer thinks instead of waxing poetic about what their developers made in shop.

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