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Old 02-23-08, 01:03 AM   #1
Andrea Men
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BROOKS Website

As I've seen many of you are interested in Brooks Saddles, I start a new thread to discuss the content of our website. We are planning to restyle it, so I'd like to get suggestions from you on the things you like and those you don't like of the current pages.
We'd like the website to be more interactive, what do you think of sections like the "People and Their Stories"? Should we have a section for videos from "Brooks Cyclists"? What about a section on the bicycles from the NHMBS (National Hand Made Bicycle Show)?

Andrea

Marketing Manager
BROOKS ENGLAND LDT.
www.brooksengland.com

"It is not the name of Brooks which makes the saddle good,
but the saddle and its excellence which makes the name supreme."
(J.B. Brooks, 1912)
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Old 02-23-08, 01:10 AM   #2
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your ideas are good. please get rid of that flash intro.
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Old 02-23-08, 01:14 AM   #3
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I'd like to get rid of most Flash and do it in HTML
Flash could be used only when needed
I'd like suggestions on the content and style. I think vintage and heritage play a role, but BROOKS should also get a more contemporary image and content. Moreover, a website is lively when people can add content, so I'd like to know which type of content we should let people add to the site: photos, stories, videos, forums?
Andrea
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Old 02-23-08, 01:24 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
please get rid of that flash intro.
+1

I have been a Brooks saddle customer for many years and I recently visited your site for the first time for maintenance information and an update on your new models. I found the flash intros -- not only on the home page, but on many pages throughout the site -- completely off-putting.

I just took another spin through your site and I believe there is too much fluff and not enough about the products themselves. Well, actually, I guess all the content is there, but it's hidden behind fancy intros, graphics, rotating banners, etc. etc. It's actually much easier to learn about your products by visiting one of your retailers (say, Wallingford Bikes), which does a good, straightforward job of presenting your information.

So, I vote against "lively," I want to know about your company; your history; your products; and maintenance.

Actually, since I own two Brooks saddles, do I get two votes?

Last edited by BengeBoy; 02-23-08 at 01:31 AM.
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Old 02-23-08, 01:28 AM   #5
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+1
It is quite clear that Flash is not welcome. What about the content?
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Old 02-23-08, 01:47 AM   #6
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It is quite clear that Flash is not welcome. What about the content?
Andrea
At some point the website hosted a pic of a naked lady showing most of her bum to the camera. More pics of same will encourage me to purchase more product.

Thank you for allowing me to share.
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Old 02-23-08, 01:48 AM   #7
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Well, to be honest, I'm sitting here going through your website trying to think of a way to summarize my reaction to it...I'm now reminded how much I hated your website the first time I visited it. I dislike it because it me it's a bunch of uncoordinated and not-thought-through design ideas thrown together, and it hides the real information. The navigation and navigational cues are inconsistent throughout. Things like the site directory pop up in odd places and have odd names. There is an over-emphasis on the "cute" instead of the explanatory. What I really hate about it that it seems so unlike your company's products -- which to me are about tradition, ruggedness, honesty and transparency.

Let me just give you one example.

There is a section on your website called "Company History." It begins with a dictionary definition of "history" (which I have to wait for to scroll up on my screen). That was a trick we all used when we were 12 years old when we didn't know how to write an essay.

Then, it begins with "Legend has it..." and proceeds to tell a version of how the Brooks company was started. But I'm left wondering -- is it "legend" or is it real? Surely you know but aren't saying? And then, after the briefest bit of details about the "legend," the "history" devolves into a kind of glossy statement of nostalgia or feelings or beliefs or something; I really can't bear to read it.

It's just awful, and so dishonest it makes me suspect what you are up to on the website. A section on company history, in my view, should just directly tell us the history of the company. Sure, throw in some lofty statement of goals and ideals, but can we get the real history of the company? Was it really started by a person named Brooks? Surely in the past 150 years the company has gone through many changes -- made other products -- been bought, sold, restructured many times -- etc. You don't need to write a book, but please, be honest -- who owns Brooks? It makes me wonder if you're hiding something (I doubt that you are, but I think it tells me that I am in a website that is not going to play straight with me...instead, I've landed in hype-land. So, do I believe in your tips on maintenance of my Brooks saddles...or are you just trying to sell me more Proofhide? I think credibility matters.)

(BTW, in 30 seconds of searching, I found this: here's an honest, straightforward company history: http://www.philwood.com/phistory.htm )

My advice to you is fire your design staff and go out to the factory and get 5 people on the line to tell you whether they can find their way around the website; ask them what they would like to see on the website; and have them diagram it for you. Then build exactly what they tell you to build, and throw all the glitz away.

Last edited by BengeBoy; 02-23-08 at 09:18 AM.
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Old 02-23-08, 01:57 AM   #8
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I like the new website quite a bit over the last one. It used to be very annoying to see that flash introduction over and over and have to go through the menus every time to see the various saddles. I suppose it could be better if menu options were still consistently available on each page.

The content now is really improved though, its good to have all of the various saddles presented in groups on one page where you don't have to route through that intro page more than once - the information on each saddle's page in particular is present - I don't think it used to be.

The only way I could personally see it being much better is if there was the possibility of having a short rundown of each saddle on this sort of page:

http://www.brooksengland.com/shop/sh...-------------2

Where perhaps a summary for each one could be put in the box on the right as you hover over each saddle, helping the user to narrow down choices without needing to navigate pages. As well, keeping the links on each page so that you can switch without needing to go back would be nice.

I'm much more pleased with how it is now than how it was.

Edit: Oh, now I see that the rest of the website is still in flash.. Thats a bit disappointing. Its annoying to have little arrows in a little screen when you already have a web browser fully wired into comfort, it would be nice to see the rest of the website go off flash as well.

Last edited by Abneycat; 02-23-08 at 02:04 AM.
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Old 02-23-08, 02:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
Well, to be honest, I'm sitting here going through your website trying to think of a way to summarize my reaction to it...I'm now reminded how much I hated your website the first time I visited it. I dislike it because it me it's a bunch of uncoordinated and not-thought-through design ideas thrown together, and it hides the real information. The navigation and navigational cues are inconsistent throughout. Things like the site directory pop up in odd places and have odd names. There is an over-emphasis on the "cute" instead of the explanatory. What I really hate about it that it seems so unlike your company's products -- which to me are about tradition, ruggedness, honesty and transparency...
I agree with most you said. The key word is HONEST.
Anyway the legend is not a legend, but the true story. We didn't know it till we received a letter from the great gandson of Mr John Boultbee Brooks 2 years ago, after the website was made.

Here is what is written in the current 2008 catalogue...

Recently we received a letter from Brian Yates, great grandson of John Boultbee Brooks, who revealed the true story of how the Brooks legend began. The facts were reported in writing by his father, Henry Bertram Yates, grandson of J.B. Brooks and last member of the family managing the company from 1941 to 1958. In 1866 J.B. Brooks moved from the small town of Hinckley to Birmingham with £ 20 in his pocket. He established himself as a dealer in General Leather Goods under the name of J.B. Brooks & Co.The firm was only making steady progress until something happened in 1878. Mr. Brooks had been in the habit of riding a horse to and from his business, but this horse died. Mr. Brooks felt he could not afford to
buy another horse, so a friend lent him a bicycle to make the journey. This introduced J.B. Brooks to cycling, but he found it so uncomfortable that he vowed he would make something more comfortable for the rider to sit on. On 28th October 1882, John Boultbee Brooks filed his first patent on “Saddles for Bicycles and Tricycles”.
The rest, as they say, is history.

Now the company is owned by Selle Royal S.p.A., one of the leading saddle manufacturers in the world, but BROOKS England Ltd. is still based near Birmingham in the English West Midlands.

Andrea
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Old 02-23-08, 02:32 AM   #10
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your ideas are good. please get rid of that flash intro.
+1

It's simply horrible.
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Old 02-23-08, 02:41 AM   #11
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+1

It's simply horrible.
The whole website or the history of the company?
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Old 02-23-08, 02:51 AM   #12
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How about some actual info and photos of the products? I've been a loyal Brooks customer for about 15 years (it was really hard to find Brooks saddles back then!), and recently was interested in purchasing a Challenge Tool Roll or other small bag. I was shocked to find very little information about the actual product and only one photo! With only one photo it's impossible to get any sort of idea of how big the interior of the bag is and it's carrying capacity, not to mention how it actually opens and closes. Needless to say I didn't purchase a tool roll from Brooks.

There seems to be a lot of 'lifestyle' dribble on the Brooks site, yet very little information about the actual products.
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Old 02-23-08, 02:58 AM   #13
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The whole website or the history of the company?
Andrea
The flash bits. The history is okay, but should it really be the main focus? As I mentioned in the above post there is way too much on lifestyle and way too little on actual product information. The lack of information on products has actually kept me from buying Brooks products, and I've used Brooks saddles exclusively for the last 15 years. (We have six Brooks saddles in my household.)

When you are selling panniers or messenger bags for such dear sums much, much, more info is needed besides a marketing department pitch and one photo. Details are essential.

Last edited by Ziemas; 02-23-08 at 03:04 AM.
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Old 02-23-08, 03:10 AM   #14
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Good comments, Ziemas
surely to be taken into high consideration
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Old 02-23-08, 03:15 AM   #15
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I agree with all the other comments regarding the flash (which I hate) and the focus on the products (which is really the only reason why a customer visits your site). I think the website actually is pretty good once you drill down to the "Catalog & Shop" section. I think this could suffice as your whole website.

Many users come to these forums looking for advice on which Brooks saddle to buy. I think your website needs to work harder to help consumers differentiate among different Brooks saddle styles. You give the weights now, and a narrative description, which is good, but what you need are comparative charts with numeric stats such as typical handlebar to bar drop, width, length, bag loops (yes/no), max rider weight (if applicable), and application (perhaps using multiple columns plus a grading system for the intended application, like maybe a Brooks Swift would get a 4/5 for racing).
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Old 02-23-08, 03:18 AM   #16
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Good comments, Ziemas
surely to be taken into high consideration
Andrea
Thanks for asking in the first place, and I'm happy to have been of help.
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Old 02-23-08, 03:23 AM   #17
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One other thing; my pop up blocker (Firefox default) blocks the Brooks site. It was a pain at first to figure out why I couldn't get the product page to open.
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Old 02-23-08, 03:24 AM   #18
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Have used a Brooks saddle for years, currently there are 5 in our household.

+1 to the previous posters who suggest making the Brooks site more pragmatic

and
+++ to Bengeboy's suggestion-
"My advice to you is fire your design staff and go out to the factory and get 5 people on the line to tell you whether they can find their way around the website; ask them what they would like to see on the website; and have them diagram it for you. Then build exactly what they tell you to build, and throw all the glitz away."

ps. am building up a new touring bike for next summer and beyond;
have a Brooks included in the specs.
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Old 02-23-08, 05:04 AM   #19
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This wall poster in the background of a Japanese bike shop that shows all of the saddles at once - this was neat if it could translated to the index page on the Brooks site.

Last edited by Rick Smith; 02-23-08 at 05:09 AM.
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Old 02-23-08, 05:33 AM   #20
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Update the history with this. Like others have said, the flash elements should probably go. As far as content goes, I'd let people upload photos of their Brooks clad bikes along with personal stories.
Off topic....I'd like to see a WATERPROOF cover made to cover my saddles on my working bikes so I could ditch the plastic bags I carry. A little classier way to cover a great saddle. Thanks.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrea Men View Post
I agree with most you said. The key word is HONEST.
Anyway the legend is not a legend, but the true story. We didn't know it till we received a letter from the great gandson of Mr John Boultbee Brooks 2 years ago, after the website was made.

Here is what is written in the current 2008 catalogue...

Recently we received a letter from Brian Yates, great grandson of John Boultbee Brooks, who revealed the true story of how the Brooks legend began. The facts were reported in writing by his father, Henry Bertram Yates, grandson of J.B. Brooks and last member of the family managing the company from 1941 to 1958. In 1866 J.B. Brooks moved from the small town of Hinckley to Birmingham with £ 20 in his pocket. He established himself as a dealer in General Leather Goods under the name of J.B. Brooks & Co.The firm was only making steady progress until something happened in 1878. Mr. Brooks had been in the habit of riding a horse to and from his business, but this horse died. Mr. Brooks felt he could not afford to
buy another horse, so a friend lent him a bicycle to make the journey. This introduced J.B. Brooks to cycling, but he found it so uncomfortable that he vowed he would make something more comfortable for the rider to sit on. On 28th October 1882, John Boultbee Brooks filed his first patent on “Saddles for Bicycles and Tricycles”.
The rest, as they say, is history.

Now the company is owned by Selle Royal S.p.A., one of the leading saddle manufacturers in the world, but BROOKS England Ltd. is still based near Birmingham in the English West Midlands.

Andrea
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Old 02-23-08, 09:19 AM   #21
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Add a saddle-picker tool. You have a lot of models

A good example of this concept is the bike-picker at the Gary Fisher bikes web site. It asks questions about how the bike will be used, then narrows to a handful of suggestions. You can then pull up a comparison of the narrowed down list with detailed info. This web tool combined with a recommendation at a bike shop is what lead me to buying a Fisher mountain bike over all of the others on the market.
See: http://www.fisherbikes.com/matchmaker
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Old 02-23-08, 09:28 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matthew_deaner View Post
Many users come to these forums looking for advice on which Brooks saddle to buy. I think your website needs to work harder to help consumers differentiate among different Brooks saddle styles. You give the weights now, and a narrative description, which is good, but what you need are comparative charts with numeric stats such as typical handlebar to bar drop, width, length, bag loops (yes/no), max rider weight (if applicable), and application (perhaps using multiple columns plus a grading system for the intended application, like maybe a Brooks Swift would get a 4/5 for racing).
+1.

Like this:

http://www.schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/road_tires


BTW, thanks for being willing to listen to this feedback, like my rant about your company history above. My point about the history is not that it should be the focus; the product (its uses, specifications, maintenance, construction, etc.) should be the focus. My point about the history was just an example of how I'd like to see the site reoriented toward more direct, explanatory information.

Good luck, and looking forward to seeing the changes.

BTW, thanks for providing the information that you are now owned by Selle Royal. I knew that, had forgotten it. I just looked at your parent company's website. Now I know why the Brooks website is so bad; looks like you have the same designers/IT team doing both, or at least the same approach. I could hardly even get all the flash and twirling products on the Selle Royal site to load. Same disjointed, floating navigation. A *little* better company history, but, really, why not state which *country* Selle Royal is based in? Design run amok.
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Old 02-23-08, 10:01 AM   #23
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I hope you've got the message by now, but I not only hate flash intros, I also can't stand any "click to enter" home page. I wish someone would explain why there are so many of those. When I open your very first page, I want at least to see links to major sections of the site. I do not want to wait for multiple pages to load before I get to one from which I can actually make some progress toward whatever I came to see.

When I got to your catalog page, I finally found what I thought should have been your home page. But there I found another common annoyance, those twirling images. I assume the people you most want to accommodate on the site will be those who go there more often, and I think those people tend to want to click quickly on a link that they recognize visually without having to actually read text or wait for an image they recognize. I enjoy the thong image as an image, for example, but it really doesn't quickly tell me where I'll really go if I click on it.

Finally, I don't think most web shoppers appreciate having to click all the way through to a single product page before getting any actual info about that product. This means you have to go all the way to the end of the road, as it were, before discoverying that you took a wrong turn. The bread crumb links ameliorate this somewhat once you've figured that out, but I'd find it better if the multi-product pages had at least a little info about each product, like the price, width and weight. Maybe page designers have a reason for putting shoppers through a bunch of "click-back-click-back" cycles, but it's annoying to this one.
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Old 02-23-08, 12:02 PM   #24
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Wow. Maybe I'm just out of touch but I didn't know there were so many Flash haters out there.
(A former Macromedia employee)
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Old 02-23-08, 01:11 PM   #25
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I think that flash websites are made only to satisfy the CEOs that commission them.

Here's why I think they're bad:
  1. Flash doesn't work everywhere, unlike normal HTML. For example, a computer runs a 64-bit OS without 32bit emulation, and Adobe does not provide a Flash player for any 64-bit platform.
  2. Flash requires a proprietary plugin.
  3. Flash does not let users change font sizes or contrast settings using personalized stylesheets.
  4. A lot of screenreaders and other accessibility tools does not work with Flash (some screenreaders does using a Windows-specific API).
  5. Flash is not indexable by all search engines. Some does index text in Flash files, but since there is no way to link to the subpage your query was found in, people can't be redirected to the result, making the result useless for users.
  6. If a browser doesn't support Flash, you get nothing unless the entire website is also saved in a standard compliant (also know as HTML) way. If a browser doesn't support CSS, you will still get a readable website.
  7. Flash doesn't not present my usual OS widgets (textfields, submit buttons and such) or use my OS settings for these (larger fontsizes, higher contrast and such).
  8. Flash is owned by a commercial entity and even though the format specification is open, it is not licensed for free use.
  9. Flash sites breaks the back button, a fundamental function that users are used to.
  10. There is no way to bookmark a subpage of most Flash-only sites.
  11. Flash doesn't work in most alternative browser devices, like PDAs or Smart phones.
  12. Printing content from a Flash site is extremely difficult and most of the time comes out weird on paper, if at all.
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