Note: Buggy whips are actually a humane product used to lead horse-drawn buggies, making snapping noises to encourage them to speed up and not meant to ever touch or harm the horse.
You might be scratching your head, confused as to why a buggy whip manufacturer has redesigned their website or even unsure of why a buggy whip would be needed today. The truth is, they aren’t and that’s the point. The buggy whip is commonly known as an analogy of businesses disrupted by innovation. It is often cited in business cases as one of the industries that did not adapt with the advent of the automobile, and thus began the demise of the buggy whip industry. The roots of the analogy can be traced to Theodore Levitt, a Harvard Business School professor.
In the web design industry we often hear about the superiority and creativity of the Apple website. Functionally, there is no technical innovation or advanced features. It is a simple wrapper with sexy, eye popping product photography, yet somehow it works. So we decided to compose an experiment to test its viability. We took a product that has been considered virtually obsolete for over 90 years and built a website using a simple, apple-istic wrapper to promote it. As the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said about simplicity, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but where there is nothing left to remove.” This is a significant part of the initial idea for this experiment.
This cognitive social acceptance experiment took a metaphorical product placed in a simplistic, familiar website design with the purpose of gauging the reaction of audience members. While no firm results may come out of this, we wanted to see if we could further understand, through the eyes of clients, what it is they are truly seeking when setting out to design their website. Utilizing different methods of exposure, website analytics and our eye tracking lab, we can better understand what attracts them to this style and what they can accomplish with it. Hopefully we might get a laugh or two along the way.
In addition to the experiment, interested readers can also participate in the Photoshop Design Contest outlined on the Buggy-Whips Facebook page: www.facebook.com/
About Buggy Whips
The Buggy-Whips project is a cognitive social acceptance experiment being conducted by Boston Interactive to better understand the balance of website design simplicity, functionality and user engagement. Boston Interactive was founded in 1999 and has successfully implemented custom interactive marketing solutions for hundreds of clients, ranging from mid-sized to Fortune 500 corporations to non-profit organizations. With experience and expertise spanning numerous industries including healthcare, biotech, high technology, and non-profit, Boston Interactive has been named a 2010 Top Agency by BtoB Magazine and listed as the 10th fastest growing company in Boston on the Boston Business Journal’s Pacesetters 2010 rankings. More information about Boston Interactive can be found at www.bostoninteractive.com.
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Boston Interactive is a web strategy, design and interactive marketing firm focused on creating effective web-based solutions that deliver tangible business results.