The other day, I began researching branded jump drives for AVC. Nothing says “I love you” to clients like a stylish, pocket-sized piece of technology that makes their lives a little easier, right?

But alas, this path was filled with far more peril than I had realized. Here’s how it went down:

The first step, of COURSE, was to Google it.

Google search results - jump drive

Holy thorough search query, Batman! This is a good lookin’ list. Time to check out the holy grail of search engine results: the first link. Man. I can’t wait. First stop,! Off we go… - bad site

GAAAAAAH! It’s hideous! Putting aside the psychotic guy in the top left whose body is being consumed by an army of green Pac-men, the site is a wreck.

When I clicked on this link, I was promised flash drives. Instead, I get whacked over the head with giant ads for laptops, mice, laser pens, and let’s not forget the tabs crammed in to the header navigation. I spent all of 10 seconds trying to figure out where I could find a selection of jump drives, or if they even offered custom jump drives before getting a headache. Bad website! Bad!

Let’s move on to the second link:

Lexar home page

Ahhhh, thank you, Lexar. After, this site is like a cool glass of water after 40 years in the desert. The first thing I see when I arrive is the nice USB Flash Drives header graphic with an attractive spread of flash drive products. The tagline beneath it isn’t bad, either: “Portable storage and backup for everyone.” *sniffs* How beautiful.

At a glance, this site boosts my consumer confidence. They prominently display the subject matter I was interested in, and they’ve put some thought in to the sales copy and layout. It answers the question “why am I here?” for me, and then gets right down to business with a clean list of USB flash drive categories they carry.

I just have one complaint. This is what happens when you click on one of the USB flash drive categories:

Lexar product page

I had hoped to see some prices at this point. Instead, I have to continue to drill down through the site, and what I find when I get there is a moderately confusing order page. I think I’ll continue to look around a bit.

Let’s continue on to our next stop:

Tiger Direct - bad site

Visiting this page was like being hit in the face with a pie. You don’t really get the full effect of this page with a screenshot, but basically, every ad on this page is animated in the most annoying way possible. The second you arrive, you’re being bombarded by flashing neon signs and long lists of model numbers that mean nothing to me.

*BUZZER SOUNDS* Bad site! Moving on.

We’re going to jump down a few links for our next stop:

Custom Jump Drives Home

Wooooo, pretty…

I really like this site. It grabbed my attention from the get-go. Why?

Well, first of all, the tagline says is great: “Print your company logo on bulk promotional Lexar jumpdrives.” That’s EXACTLY what I wanted, and it’s not just WHAT they said, it’s HOW they said it. The header graphic uses soothing colors. They’ve manually sized and spaced the text in the tagline so that the sides are justified, and that’s hard. The font they’ve chosen has nice lines, and it’s easy to read.

Better still, they’ve got a big, fat picture of a sexy-looking jump drive with the words “your logo” imposed on it. I can’t help but imagine Aqua Vita’s logo there, dang it!

These guys know what they’re doing, if the front page is any indication, but we’re not done yet. Let’s see what a product page looks like:

Oh man. I’m in love. Not only does this page contain the pricing, they have color options, a button to get an estimate, further customization options, the ability to add this product to my cart, product details, delivery info…you want it, it’s on here.

And hey, if I’m not happy with this, no problem! They’ve got a nice photo grid of other hot-looking jump drives in the right sidebar. Gorgeous.

If there’s one fly in the ointment, it’s that clicking on a product link took me to a different site: I suspect this is the parent company, and they use because of the keyword-optimized nature of the site address.

And hey, there’s a quick way to see how effective that strategy is. Let’s do another search, this time for the phrase “custom jump drives”:

Google search - custom jump drives

Boom. By using this custom URL in their marketing, they’ve landed themselves the first AND second spots in Google search results for “custom jump drives.” Just for kicks, let’s try Yahoo!, same keywords:

Yahoo results - custom jump drives

Yep. They’ve got the first and second slots again.

We’ve got a clear winner here. Thank you, You were easy to find, easy on the eyes, and you put a lot of thought in to your customer’s experience on your website. You just earned yourself a customer.

Have a “good site / bad site” example you’d like for me to write about? Comment below! I read and appreciate each and every one of your comments.