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Business + Design: Interview with Grasshopper Group

business | design | interview by Shannon Noack on November 19, 2010 | 0 Comments

Spreadable-TeamWe did another great interview with a successful business that has a great website and awesome style. This time it was with the whole team at Grasshopper Group. Their company strives to empower busy entrepreneurs through products that offer ways to make your job easier.

This interview is a part of a series of interviews with entrepreneurs, business owners, and working professionals. We ask them questions about design, websites, and other things that we think you will find interesting or helpful for your own business.

1. Please tell us a little bit about your business Grasshopper Group and what you do.

Grasshopper group is a brand for entrepreneurs. Our core purpose is to empower entrepreneurs to succeed through a suite of products and services. Today that includes our original product Grasshopper (a Virtual Phone System), Chargify (a simple Recurring Billing System), and our newest Spreadable (a powerful Word of Mouth Marketing Tool). In our movement toward becoming a brand for entrepreneurs we plan to launch a new product or service for entrepreneurs every 6-9 months.

‪2. What role do you think design plays in your business, is it important?

Design is an essential for any business, and especially for ours. Whether you are brick and mortar with a sign and store front, or an online ecommerce business like we are, design needs to be as much of a focus as the product or service are. Design has always been a key focus here at Grasshopper. We constantly challenge our designs, looking to improve and reinvent via A/B and MVT testing. Some things we focus on from a usability stand point are: choice of colors, ease of navigation, and location of key site elements like CTA (call to action) buttons. In fact we can attribute a large part of our products success to good design. In 2007 we completely redesigned our site and started focusing as much on design as we did on our product. We were able to increase conversion over 23 percent!!

3. What elements on a website do you think are really important and help to make a difference for users?

Wow, there are so many – but let me give you my top 3:

1. Navigation
What I mean by this is clear and simple navigation in your site header, detailed and organized navigation in your site footer, and a side navigation / site map with a clear hierarchy structure. The reason this is so important is because your visitors don’t know about your product. Site owners too often assume everyone “gets” what their product is – but the truth is they don’t. Another point on navigation is clearly naming and designating what pages are. Keep it simple – do you have a page about how your product works? Well then call it that – don’t try to be too creative and reinvent the wheel.

2. CTA location and color
Now let’s talk call to action buttons – more commonly referred to as CTAs. These are the links you have on your site directing people where you want them to go. The goal here is to drive people to the end goal on your site – whether it is to subscribe to your blog or purchase your product. Its important to take time with your navigation and use large and clear CTAs to inform and drive your visitors to your end goal. These CTAs should not be a simple text link, but instead a large, clear call to action. Note, these should always be above the fold (the place where the page is cut off by the browser and the visitor has to scroll down to see more). They should always be driving the visitor to taking some sort of action – I.e. “See how it works”. Lastly, remember to make your CTA buttons pop, try using completely different colors from your website (i.e if you have a blue site, use red CTAs).

3. Copy
You as the site owner / entrepreneur know more than anyone about your site and product or service – but it doesn’t mean you should write your site copy. Get a copy writer or someone who has experience writing site copy. Focus on conversational copy – I.e. Talk to people on your site as you do to people about your product in person. Make sure to focus on key elements and features you want to inform people about and be sure when doing so to have an eye on SEO. Lastly, make sure you tell a story, there is no more powerful way to connect with your audience than with a story.

4. What items on your site make it different and unique?

One key thing is the Refer an Entrepreneur link in the header of This was what led to the development of Spreadable. In short, it is our custom solution to what is often referred to as a “tell a friend” program. We have the “refer an entrepreneur” button in the header throughout the site as a way to encourage our customer base to shout from the rooftops about us. This was developed as I struggled with our CEO over the last few years to figure out a way to influence word of mouth traffic. Most people think their best form of marketing is some traditional ppc, tv, or radio – but more likely than not it is referrals, so make sure to ask for them.

5. Do you recommend businesses start a company blog? Why?

‪ A blog can be an extremely valuable asset to a company. It’s a really easy way to update your customers about what’s new, reach new customers & of course it’s a great way to add content to your site. What happens though is people forget that a blog is an investment. It takes time & more importantly, it takes resources to make it successful.

To answer the question, yes, I do recommend people start a company blog but only if you’re going to do it right. Make sure you have a strategy, people to write and know what your customers & potential customers want to read about. Having a blog that isn’t maintained can actually be a turn off to prospective customers.

6. Any sites you’ve seen lately for a business/company/entrepreneur that are just awesome?

Of course! There are some of our favorites like Fast Company & Read Write Web which have really great info when it comes to business and tech but I love reading the guys that are out there doing it:

• Neil Patel at Quick Sprout
• Eric Ries at Startup Lessons Learned
Steve Blank’s blog.

They all give you insights and lessons that only someone who has started a business (or several) can tell you.

Thanks so much Grasshopper Group for your time and great answers! We hope everyone enjoyed the interview, let us know what you think in the comments below.


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