When you compare a corporation’s website from the early web era (the late 1990s) to the same company’s current website, you can easily recognize the DNA of the early site in the 2017 model.

For example, if you use the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to view the 2001 version of Ford.com you’ll immediately be blown away by the dramatic changes in aesthetics and “wow” factors.

But you’ll also see the beginnings of a structure of today’s Ford.com as it relates to the organization of the site: Products. Customers. People who work at Ford. Corporate News. They were all there in 2001; lots of words organized in the pre-online tradition of a corporate brochure.

However, today’s best corporate websites have gone beyond the corporate communications and marketing collateral phase. The most dramatic transition is the recognition by their creators that, in addition to their roles as beautiful, interactive and engaging online brochures, these sites are also, as we like to call them, “information utilities.”

Information utilities go beyond engaging hype. On Ford’s site, the company provides a potential buyer the tools to compare different models, view various options and colors, and apply for various financing plans. And the information is organized in various ways so that different customers—those who care about leather upholstery and those who care about what’s under the hood—have different tools.

Today’s great sites don’t view content as another blog post or a tweet. They view content as the information customers use to make purchasing decisions. They see it as education and training, helping customers get the most out of their purchase, before and after the sale.

Today’s great sites are fountains of knowledge, not piles of promotion.

Bottomline: View your information utilities with one goal in mind: To be recognized as the company whose website provides its customers with the best information, knowledge and wisdom.

Image: Ford Motor Co.

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