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The Big Three’s Websites - Really? (1 Viewer)

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
A few days ago I suggested to someone unfamiliar with current premium binoculars, that a good way to get an idea of the different offerings
by Zeiss, Leica and Swarovski, would be to download their main catalogues so as to be able to conveniently compare and contrast

While you’d think that would be easy, it’s not at all so with the first two sites, and as of a few days ago seems to be impossible with the Swarovski site!

- - - -

For some time both the Zeiss and the Leica sites have been in a form that gives a visitor 'an experience’ - as opposed to providing easy and transparent navigation - especially for someone new to the site
And in the last few days Swarovski has 'updated’ it’s site in the same manner, and at this point is clearly the worst

For anyone not familiar with the sites, the easiest way to get an appreciation is by experience
Then for contrast go to a 'less sophisticated’ site such as Meopta’s, where you can quickly and easily get to where you want to be

Undoubtably there is a 'philosophy’ behind such complex designs, along with supporting empirical data,
but as to who’s impressed besides corporate decision makers is hard to understand

- - - -

A few observations for those who insist on presenting themselves to the world in such a manner
At least:
• have all publications such as catalogues, pamphlets and specification sheets accessible from one page
(or one page each by type e.g. binoculars, telescopes, sights)
• provide a site map link, so that visitors can choose the experience that they want (now that would be easy and transparent), and
• provide a search link (currently there’s not one on the Swarovski site!)

- - - -

Previously I've provided links to a variety of material on Swarovski’s site including catalogues, model specific pamphlets and corporate publications
None of the links now work, and none of the items seem to be available
Hopefully this will soon be corrected


In closing a big WWTT - What Were They Thinking?

Curmudgeonly Yours
John
 
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Mono

Hi!
Staff member
Supporter
Europe
Last year the mobile v desktop battle finally crept in favour of the mobile. More web access is via mobiles, therefore websites are increasingly designed to be used on smaller screens and on touchscreen. Plus speeds are ever increasing so you can have full screen pretty pictures.

Another aspect is the drop off in print media, companies just don't make catalogues and brochures, even IKEA has stopped printing a catalogue. If you are not making a print catalogue then the pdf is just not there to stick on the website. It is better to put the information in a form it can be read on small touchscreen.

It is the modern world.
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
A) The ascendency of mobiles

Hi Mono,
Of course you’re right about the ascendency of mobile devices, and that their limitations/ demands are causing the modification of websites

All three sites include PDF links on their mobile-centric pages, and I expect that they'll do so indefinitely
When considering various products (including expensive optics), many intending purchasers want much more detailed information,
than can be easily shown on a mobile orientated page

For a company not to provide that information, would be to shoot themselves in the foot sales wise, since when needed,
most people also access information from devices with less limited displays e.g. at home, at work, via a friend

- - - -

B) Zeiss’ PDFs

Good catch Lee!
It may be better to only go down the path as far as: https://www.zeiss.co.uk/consumer-products/service/download-center.html

The advantage is that you can than choose:
• both from the Nature and the Hunting catalogues (the latter often includes extra detail about binoculars and telescopes), and
• also the instruction manuals for the various products

- - - -

C) Swarovski’s new site

Well in part, I was . . . wrong!

It would be useful if on the top of the front page, Swarovski posted something along the lines of:
'Welcome to the new mobile friendly version of our site
For even more information, in a more traditional form,
click on the button to your left’

At the top of the page there is a button labelled somewhat strangely 'Come Closer’ (vs something informative like Extra Info or More Details)

Clicking on the button gives three main choices: Stories; About Us, and; Service
• Stories currently has one item
• About Us has some basic information about the company, and
• Service has significant additional information that will be of interest to many


In the Service stream, you need to click on the ‘My Service’ (?) button on the right, and then repeatedly click to get to the end of the various paths
- just like on a site from 20 years ago
There’s a lot of useful information, including pamphlets for various products and the spare parts catalogues,
and information that I’ve not seen elsewhere

But seemingly there’s not a whole product line catalogue or the useful 136 page 2016 Sustainability Report
(see at: https://www.birdforum.net/threads/swarovski-optik’s-2016-sustainability-report.373270/#post-3819173 )

And when you click into the My Service stream you do get a search field, but no site map (which considering the multiple paths, would be useful)

Finally, be aware that:
• In the mobile stream you can get PDF's of the instructions and the technical specifications for a product, but not the pamphlet for the product, and
• In the traditional stream you can get the PDF of the product pamphlet, but neither the instructions nor the spec’s


John
 
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Omid

Well-known member
United States
When considering various products (including expensive optics), many intending purchasers want much more detailed information,
than can be easily shown on a mobile orientated page. For a company not to provide that information, would be to shoot themselves in the foot sales wise, since when needed, most people also access information from devices with less limited displays e.g. at home, at work, via a friend

John,

I completely agree with you about simplicity and ease of access to key information. However, we should note that these companies (like almost any other major brand) are not there to educate or inform. The goal of their website is to induce a positive feeling in the potential buyer and encourage him/her to buy their products. Since all binoculars by Leica, Zeiss, Sowarovski, Nikon are nearly identical in technical specifications and function, mechanical or optical specification are not the areas of emphasis for their marketing departments. They have to use indirect persuasion techniques such as "we are green", "we care about environment", "we are friends of the earth", etc. And this "story" is to be fed to the consumer and make him feel good via the website. Technical information is irrelevant. The website is there to present a story.

-Omid
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
Hi Omid,

I disagree with your assessment that technical information is unimportant in marketing - especially with products like high-end optics
It’s not that technical information is of no importance, but rather it is of far less primary importance within current approaches to marketing
However, it is still an integral part of any comprehensive marketing narrative

- - - -

Marketing is ultimately about outcome: to give a company a comparative advantage, by selling more units than otherwise

To put it crudely, a common overarching message of 'Old Style’ marketing was along the lines of:
• We’re serious guys making serious products for other serious guys
• So if you’re a serious guy you’ll use our product
• Your performance with our product will that of a serious guy, and
• By owning our product, others will know that you’re a serious guy

In contrast with 'New Style’ marketing, one:
• substitutes words such as ‘environmentally conscious’, ‘caring’ or ‘ethical’ for serious, and
• is gender inclusive
So the concept remains the same, it’s the value that's stressed that differs

While the above may sound cynical it’s not a criticism as such. It recognises that for many a purchase may be both a functional
and an emotional transaction in terms of the value received
So marketing is one of the things that companies need to do to be successful - to be profitable - and so continue to exist

- - - -

For a given product line, an effective marketer is going to do research to identify the various groups of potential customers
And such groups are going to be mixed, both in terms of conscious wants and needs, and in terms of what otherwise influences them favourably
both cognitively and emotionally
From the research the marketer will then construct an appropriate overall consistent narrative

However, within the overall narrative, there will be multiple components that reinforce different aspects of the main message
And significantly, different components will be of of lesser or greater value to a particular potential customer
While an individual will respond differently to particular components, the overall effect is intended to be cumulative,
so that the individual will reach a critical mass of favourable impressions

And although marketing may currently place an overall stress on 'soft’ values, hard technical information is still an integral component
While it may be largely a guy thing, for some the presence of technical details to ponder will be a significant contributor to any eventual purchase:
a positive intellectual result will also be a positive emotional one
e.g. for many who frequent this site, the minutiae of specifications are important, and marketers are aware of this


John
 
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Omid

Well-known member
United States
Hi John

Despite what you said in the first sentence, you actually validated and expanded my view! :)

When I said technical specs are irrelevant, obviously I was exaggerating. Some specifications are informative (e.g. weight) but most others are not. Of all the various published specifications of a binocular, very few of them correlate directly with how an operator will experience the view. Pickup a specification table from Leica or Zeiss and you might find a no-brand Chinese binocular which has the exact same specifications (same magnification, objective diameter, eye relief, weight, etc.) How does this specification table help you (an expert) or any other buyer (a non-expert) differentiate between the $2000 Leica and the $200 Chinese binocular? For binoculars, most of the publicly available specifications do not correlate directly with the actual experience of using them. Same is true with cars, laptops and wives.
 
Last edited:

elkcub

Silicon Valley, California
United States
Hi Omid,

I disagree with your assessment that technical information is unimportant in marketing - especially with products like high-end optics
It’s not that technical information is of no importance, but rather it is of far less primary importance within current approaches to marketing
However, it is still an integral part of any comprehensive marketing narrative

- - - -

Marketing is ultimately about outcome: to give a company a comparative advantage, by selling more units than otherwise

To put it crudely, a common overarching message of 'Old Style’ marketing was along the lines of:
• We’re serious guys making serious products for other serious guys
• So if you’re a serious guy you’ll use our product
• Your performance with our product will that of a serious guy, and
• By owning our product, others will know that you’re a serious guy

In contrast with 'New Style’ marketing, one:
• substitutes words such as ‘environmentally conscious’, ‘caring’ or ‘ethical’ for serious, and
• is gender inclusive
So the concept remains the same, it’s the value that's stressed that differs

While the above may sound cynical it’s not a criticism as such. It recognises that for many a purchase may be both a functional
and an emotional transaction in terms of the value received
So marketing is one of the things that companies need to do to be successful - to be profitable - and so continue to exist

- - - -

For a given product line, an effective marketer is going to do research to identify the various groups of potential customers
And such groups are going to be mixed, both in terms of conscious wants and needs, and in terms of what otherwise influences them favourably
both cognitively and emotionally
From the research the marketer will then construct an appropriate overall consistent narrative

However, within the overall narrative, there will be multiple components that reinforce different aspects of the main message
And significantly, different components will be of of lesser or greater value to a particular potential customer
While an individual will respond differently to particular components, the overall effect is intended to be cumulative,
so that the individual will reach a critical mass of favourable impressions

And although marketing may currently place an overall stress on 'soft’ values, hard technical information is still an integral component
While it may be largely a guy thing, for some the presence of technical details to ponder will be a significant contributor to any eventual purchase:
a positive intellectual result will also be a positive emotional one
e.g. for many who frequent this site, the minutiae of specifications are important, and marketers are aware of this


John
Congratulations, John, on writing the longest posts on BF sans periods at the end of sentences o_O
Or, were those sentences :unsure:

Ed
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
Hi Ed,

For whatever reason I have great difficulty reading passages of continuous text on-line, in contrast to when on the printed page
And I’m also conscious that people viewing this site may be using devices with limited size displays

So over time I’ve tried various ways of setting out text, hopefully to aid readability
And your right, I’ve currently tried to minimise the use of periods
Though as you indicate, perhaps a step too far? :oops:


John
 
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John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
Hi Omid (post #9),

Well, my bad! Since it was not at all obvious to me that you were exaggerating

And hopefully your last two sentences in post #9 are only another obvious example of exaggeration?
. . . most of the publicly available specifications do not correlate directly with the actual experience of using . . . wives.


John
 
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tenex

reality-based
Since all binoculars by Leica, Zeiss, Sowarovski, Nikon are nearly identical in technical specifications and function, mechanical or optical specification are not the areas of emphasis for their marketing departments.
Once again we disagree completely. What a surprise... perhaps your entire approach to life is more impressionistic than detail-oriented, artful exaggeration and all. This is simply false. The fact is that advertising used to be all about differences and comparisons, and has become completely useless (for all the money spent on it) now that it's not. Although specifications are only a beginning, there are obvious differences particularly in size/weight, edge sharpness, and FOV between competing models, even at the alpha level. (The distinctive advantage claimed for both NL and SF is of course FOV, a... technical specification.)

What's bizarre about websites like these is that they seem now to be presenting the appeal of having a binocular at all to someone who's never thought of it before, instead of distinguishing their particular brand or model from any other. Of course this isn't a unique problem; on rare occasions when I watch TV, I can seldom even tell what product an ad is for until the end when they tell you (if they do). With something as technically complex and varied as binoculars this approach is especially ridiculous, suited only for the completely ignorant, which seems rather insulting.
 

Omid

Well-known member
United States
Some additional reflections on "binocular specifications":

Imagine that John buys a top quality binocular which is advertised as a 8X42 model. He uses it happily and it provides an outstanding view of nature, birds, stars etc. A few years later, he loans these to his physics professor friend who takes them to his lab at ANU and figures out that they where actually a 7.5X40. That is, actual magnification is 10% less than advertised value and the effective objective aperture of your binoculars is only 40mm (giving 10% less aperture area).

How should John react to this knowledge?

John, would you:
a) get furious and return the binoculars to the manufacturer and demand your money back and then go buy a new pair making sure this time that the magnification is exactly 8X and the objective dimeter exactly 42mm? or
b) decide that your binoculars are great as they are and give you very satisfying view and so you keep them and continue enjoying them as before?

I hope the above hypothetical example clarifies what I meant when I said specifications do not correlate directly with the actual experience of using binoculars. Of course the experience of using a 15X binocular is different than using an 8X but you can not say which one is "better". The specifications are just technical numbers.

In an ideal world, binoculars could have been grouped into categories such as "compact", "mid-size" and "full-size" and then their subjective viewing quality could be described using a star system similar to the one used for rating restaurants or hotels. In this system, top quality binoculars by companies like Zeiss and Leica would get a 5-star rating and lesser quality models would get a 4-star or 3-star rating accordingly. Quoting exact specifications such as "67.5 degree field of view" or "93.2% light transmission" for a binocular and then using that for comparison with another brand is pure BS. This practice misleads the consumers (99% of them do not have a deep knowledge of human eye physiology and optics to know that these don't matter). The "specification matters" mindset also pushes manufacturers to compete with each other just to beat the other brand's "specification". Such a competition has resulted in "Eierlegendewollmilchsau" creatures such the Nikon WX binoculars and Zeiss Victory V8 riflescopes. Incidentally, both Zeiss sports optics and Nikon have gone down shortly after introducing these "highest specification in history" products.
 
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John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
Hi Omid,

How would I react to finding my 8x42 was actually a 7.5x40? Probably with mild amusement

Many will be aware that a nominally 8x binocular may easily range from 7.9x or 8.1x or even wider
Although 7.5x would be beyond the limit of what most would consider honest labelling

However, as a practicality the difference is relatively small: 7.5x provides nearly 94% of the magnification of 8x (1 ÷ 8 x 7.5 = 0.9375)
So not really something to get upset over

- - - -

My original post was about the current organisation of the Big Three’s websites, and the consequent lack of ease of navigation
So I made a number of obvious suggestions

As the thread continued, the points that were made included:
• the organisation of the sites is increasingly designed to facilitate use on hand held devices, and
• the presentation primarily seeks to give a user the impression that the companies and their products represent certain values

And I disagreed with you as to the importance of technical information, as an integral part of an overall narrative about values

However, in relation to the detail and quality of the technical information, I do agree that there are obvious criticisms to be made
But I didn't dispute that (better information would be better)
But nor do I see how the criticisms of the standard information, detracts from its role in the current narratives

- - - -

I suppose one takeaway is what we frequently say on this site, when someone inquires as to which binocular in a selection is best:
in the end, if possible try before you buy

Not only specifications and diagrams, but also the impressions and detailed reviews and ratings of others can only tell an intending purchaser so much
e.g. besides experiencing the various aspects of optical performance, other important hands-on experience includes the ergonomics and haptics


John
 
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Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
Hi Omid,

How would I react to finding my 8x42 was actually a 7.5x40? Probably with mild amusement

Many will be aware that a nominally 8x binocular may easily range from 7.9x or 8.1x or even wider
Although 7.5x would be beyond the limit of what most would consider honest labelling

However, as a practicality the difference is relatively small: 7.5x provides nearly 94% of the magnification of 8x (1 ÷ 8 x 7.5 = 0.9375)
So not really something to get upset over

- - - -

My original post was about the current organisation of the Big Three’s websites, and the consequent lack of ease of navigation
So I made a number of obvious suggestions

As the thread continued, the points that were made included:
• the organisation of the sites is increasingly designed to facilitate use on hand held devices, and
• the presentation primarily seeks to give a user the impression that the companies and their products represent certain values

And I disagreed with you as to the importance of technical information, as an integral part of an overall narrative about values

However, in relation to the detail and quality of the technical information, I do agree that there are obvious criticisms to be made
But I didn't dispute that (better information would be better)
But nor do I see how the criticisms of the standard information, detracts from its role in the current narratives

- - - -

I suppose one takeaway is what we frequently say on this site, when someone inquires as to which binocular in a selection is best:
in the end, if possible try before you buy

Not only specifications and photographs, but also the impressions and reviews of others can only tell an intending purchaser so much
e.g. besides experiencing the various aspects of optical performance, other important hands-on experience includes the ergonomics and haptics


John
John, I feel your pain. It's not just the big 3, its many websites these days, even those of gov't agencies, are just awful. It's pretty pics and pablum over information and feelings over facts. I hate it. Fonts are larger, but thinner, screens are left with enormous amounts of empty space. Even this new BF site suffers to some extent. I often visit gov't regulatory sites for work purposes and cringe every time I see a redesign, usually the result is the information and forms I'm looking for have been moved to and obscure corner or often just eliminated. As I'm getting on in years I'll ask our younger engineers if they have the same issues or is it that I'm just firmly in old fart territory. So far we've been in 100% agreement that the navigability and usefulness of the redesigned sites is bad. Warms my cold heart a little that I'm not completely over the hill.
 

Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
When I start plans for investigation and testing of binoculars and telescopes, I use generally paper catalogues and sometimes electronic versions. The different values for the different performances can vary and often slightly deviate from the exact values in the catalogues (as you can read in all my test reports). That never bothered me one bit, since that is a fact of life: when you produce things and you make hundreds or thousands of them it is inevitable that there are small deviations of the exact values in the flyers. Seems a natural fact of life to me. So Omid I do not understand your excitement over not mentioning the fact that a binocular can magnify 8,0+/- 0,2x or a transmission of 905 whereas that varies over the wavelenght range investigated. In science that is normal, but I do not expect that in a flyer with information for the general public. If they did that it would probably generate a lot of fuss and discussions; in my opinion a waste of time and not only that it would be very confusing for many.
Gijs van Ginkel
 

Sterngucker

Well-known member
It is a reflection of our times: greed over actual service to the customer.
I was recently researching the spotting scope system offered by a rather well-known and highly regarded manufacturer. Or trying to. They made it easy to spend the starting price of US$ 4220 on their fancy site which they obviously consider to be ever so stylish but I would have had to do so without a (pdf) data sheet or indeed any kind of detailed information about the object of my desire.

The result was that I turned my attention to two companies who, at least at this point in time, still deign to supply potential customers with really relevant product information and spex.

In essence this is about informed choices, and I believe corporations not supporting customers in making those should be 'punished' while those honoring this fact should be 'rewarded' through where we spend our money.
 

dries1

Member
"In an ideal world, binoculars could have been grouped into categories such as "compact", "mid-size" and "full-size" and then their subjective viewing quality could be described using a star system similar to the one used for rating restaurants or hotels. In this system, top quality binoculars by companies like Zeiss and Leica would get a 5-star rating and lesser quality models would get a 4-star or 3-star rating accordingly".

I think this is a bit oversimplified, who is assigning the X-star rating, and is this based on Brand? The specs for a glass can be provided as a side table or link. This is not so complicated.

Andy W.
 

Gijs van Ginkel

Well-known member
If we limit the discussion to data supplied by binocular producers I hardly ever had problems with the data they supply and, besides a very attractive and seductive presentation all data I need are up to now mentioned in the information sheets, so I do not see a problem. A succesfull binocular company makes thousands of binoculars/telescopes and of course there is a window of deviations allowed. Or does one want for an 8x32 binocular that they all are 8,0000x32,000 binoculars. Not very realistic in my opinion.
Gijs van Ginkel
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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