http://www.mohawkpaper.com/

I thought we’d all learned our lessosn in 2001: cool/sweet/hot/attractive flash interfaces are not with the money spent on them. Â You know who this impresses? People who don’t buy paper.

This isn’t a technical failure as much as it is a marketing one.Â

Let’s start by trying to look at paper. Well, if I don’t already know the name of the type of paper, you’re starting at a loss. Â Let’s click on the “Paper Selection Process” and I can select the shade, grade, finish, weight of the paper. Â But then things get weird. It starts to put crosses into boxes for “Windpower” without me asking for it. Does that mean you are elminating Windpower from my options or that you only have Windpower? And what the hell is Windpower, anyway? Â Once you’ve blindly selected some things that sound good, you are presented with a grid of… something. Â Paper types? Brands? Clicking on them shows me 50-word desciptions of the paper (note to masochist copy-writers: try and explain the differences between two papers with words that anyone can understand. Can’t be done). No way for me to buy paper, even if I liked what I see… except I have nothing to see. Â No paper samples or pictures. The only image is the cover of a brochure which is clickable but doesn’t actually do anything when clicked. One of them says “Null” at the top so… maybe they don’t make that paper anymore? Then why display it?

Flash windows on top of flash windows make reading things or moving around impossible. More than once I landed on… a vast field of gray with nothing on it. Which was fine because this was the fifth browser window Mohawk opened for me in five minutes and I’m thrilled to get rid of it, too.

I’m lost. Â Let’s start over.

Paper selection, try some things, click on the “Find Paper” button I didn’t see before. Now I get “results” but I’m not sure what results you were giving me before. I see six different Cool White opens of paper.  If I put my cursor over one of the options, I get a  .5″x.5″ square of scanned paper to show me what this paper looks like. It was scanned with the contrast turned up high so I can see how much texture the paper has, but in so doing, I wouldn’t want to buy this paper. I have no idea what these papers actually look , but what does it matter when they are all Cool White?Â

(Note: An email sent one week ago to info@mohawkpaper.com asking if a certain brand itpaper was still made there got no responce. Don’t bother publishing your email address if you aren’t going to bother answering emails.)

This is a site that’s supposed to market “superior runability” to printers. Well, they get sample books and order through local distributors, so they don’t actually need this web site. Â Congrats! You’ve built a website for people who don’t need a website.

What should Mohawk have done? Well, pick an audience, for one. Let’s say you want to focus on selling your slightly-cooler-than-your-standard-copy-paper (why? Well, because its impossible to compete against all the other paper companies on the basis that your white copy paper isn’t exactly the same as everyone else’s copy paper, so you might as well differentiate your products). Who’s gonna buy it? Well, lots of people. People who want to print their letters and correspondence on paper that’s cooler than “Parchment White” but isn’t covered with ladybugs and sunflowers (see: scrapbooks stores).

Who is that, you ask? How about people who are looking for a job and would like to stand out? Hmm… does that sound like a market to serve? Can you already picture the ads where you help someone pick a superior paper with some clout and style, making them stand out from the pack of resume jockeys who all went to Staples for Parchment White? Â If you can’t you should get out of the marketing game.

Congrats! You’ve just created a new market segment and are currently the only people talking to them: start printing your money.

Building a site with too much money to the wrong audience was a lesson I thought we all learned years ago. Â I guess the paper industry hasn’t been keeping up.