Separation of Web Application Interface and the public "sales" site
14 May 2010 - 8:17am
3 years ago
I have recently been engaged in an interesting internal discussion with respect to the separation of a web application interface from its related public sales site. The two main setups I see are:
The web application interface is completely separate from the sales and information interface. Think 37signals.com vs. their Basecamp application. Similar branding and visual elements can certainly be maintained, but it's not a shared interface or share IA.
The application interface and the sales and information are merged and share a common interface. Think eBay or probably most ecommerce sites.
The site we're building is not an ecommerce site, but we have a pretty staunch cadre that thinks the web application interface should be rolled up with and alongside the sales/information interface. In other words, while using the app you'll see the same global nav from the sales site, "About Us" and customer testimonials all while using the application.
For the record I'm pretty firmly in the option #1 camp - I see no reason to merge the interfaces, unless maybe it's an ecommerce site. The difference there is that Amazon and Ebay are pushing products directly and their brand indirectly. It's a very different sales tactic than 37signals selling Basecamp.
I think the application interface and the sales/information site have two different audiences with dramatically different needs and as such they need a different interface. Having the application interface rolled up next to the sales info and "About Us" seems redundant to me for the application user, not to mention it severely restricts the application interface as it grows and evolves.
Can anyone add their opinion on how, when or why these interfaces should be separate or combined? Even better, if there's any research or "expert" opinions on the matter I'd love to see them, I just haven't stumbled upon them yet in my search.