Best Manufacturer's Website Features

What features do you like to see when you visit audio or video manufacturer's website?

Many Audiogon members spend a lot of time looking at manufacturer's websites. Hear is a post to list those features that you would like to see on ALL manufacturer's websites. Maybe we'll get lucky and a few manufacturers will actually look at this post.

Here's my list:

Essential features
* Suggested retail prices for ALL products
* An accurate list of dealers and what part of the line each one carries
* Links to the dealer's website if they have one
* Multiple view pictures of all of the products for sale
* Full Technical Specifications for all products

Optional, but nice features
* PDF versions of the owner's manuals
* Information on discontinued products
* PDF versions of the product brochures
Note: I put the discussion here so that it is easier for all of you to ignore if you don't want to read my ramblings. Key_Metric

Suppose someone new to audiophile equipment sees an ad in a magazine for the new Melodic Cobalt amplifier from Acme Electronique. The person might next go the manufacturer's website, to find out more information. If the website has no dealer list, just phone number, this person may just give up at that point and go to his local Discount Electronic Box store instead and asks for something "similar" to the Melodic Cobalt amplifier.

Now suppose the website does have a dealer list. Instead of calling the dealer, this person decides to stop by after work one day to check out the equipment in person. Since in this scenario the website did not have suggested retail prices, this person thinks the most that this amplifier could cost is around $1000 because that is the most he has ever seen an amplifier go for at Discount Electronic Box. To his surprise, this person soon finds out that the Melodic Cobalt amplifier sells for $5000. Since he asked to see the amplifier in the first place, he listens to a few tracks from the salesman's CD. He is too embarrassed to ask the correct questions of the salesperson that would have directed him to other products in the store that fit his budget. His impression is that all of the equipment in the store, all brands he has never heard of, is too expensive for him. (Most of the general public, and even many of the Discount Electronic Box store employees have never heard of the brands that we talk about every day.) He leaves the store and later jokes about the absurd prices to his friends, assuring that none of them will ever enter that store even though it may carry many excellent products that fit into a smaller budget. The next day he goes to his local Discount Electronic Box store instead and asks for something "similar" to the Melodic Cobalt amplifier.

These two scenarios illustrate some of the reasons I think that all audio and video manufacturer's websites should list prices and dealers. Being a member of Audiogon gives us access to some prices, but people new to higher end audio do not necessarily belong to audiogon. Also, for some products I have resorted to looking a the product reviews linked through the manufacturer's website just to find if a product is in my price range. What a pain!

The last two items on my essentials list are there to for the convenience of informed customers. The multiple view pictures, such as high resolution front and back panel images, can sometimes answer simple questions that are hard to answer without looking at the actual product. It is nice to know if a product will work before making a trip to a dealer, especially if travel is necessary because there is no local dealer for the product.
I'd like to have rapid access to product info, and rather not have to wait around for fancy animated graphics and Macromedia Flash displays to load. It is a waste of time.

I want good photos, and easy access to the needed information.
I would also think that associated pieces that are known to work well with whatever is offered should be listed. It's unusual to find this type of information and many times dealers are your only source.
Martin Logan has a "click here to transfer warranty", allowing the buyer of a used ML product that is still within the warranty period to register their speakers. Common sense prevails in Kansas!

All of the features mentioned above are a must, there is no excuse not to have a content-rich site. If the manufacturer has no experience in developing websites I'm sure the 16 year-old kid next door can do it for them for next to nothing.
I agree with everything there, except the dealer list part. This can be a list for competitors to go poaching, and is why many manufacturers don't do this. I know as a consumer, you just want the basic information of who your dealer is. Thus you should be able to e-mail someone and get that answer indirectly through the website. I also agree about the animations--our website is guilty of not having a shortcut to skip those, that's on the to do list for our site.
Im always disappointed if a site does not clearly list features such as preamp out on int.amps or how many inputs/outputs on preamps. Also, quality pictures are a must. A tiny sidebar pic of a speaker doesnt encourage me to show it to my wife! Some speakers have a gorgeous wood finish but you would never know from their website. Reminds me of when a car mag has a scoop on some new car and all you get are fish-eye lens views that leave you wondering what the hell it looks like (and what were they are thinking?).
I'd put pdfs of manuals as an essential. I've also really appreciated that some mfrs have put downloadable Pronto ccfs for their gear. Related links--user forums/lists would also be a plus...
Accuphase lists all of their vintage products and their years of production allowing me to research such items as their T101 tuner. This is a great feature because quality manufacturers which have been around 20+ years still have many products in use.
I agree PDF manuals (service manuals would be nice too), and Good images are key. Martin Logan does a good job with this. CJ has a nice section on vintage products - also a good thing.

For a few reasons, most sites will not have the following:

* Suggested retail prices for ALL products

- prices change, thus chances are a possibility of the site getting out of sync with prices, exists. Also, given currency fluctuation, would encourage grey market shopping from countries where the prices may not always be in line 100% with each other.

* An accurate list of dealers and what part of the line each one carries

- Not likely. Too easy to simply spam them all with some bottom-feeder email like "what's your best price, will you sell for $X? "... manufacturers and dealers don't want that. also encourages selling out of territory, a big no-no with manufacturers.

* Links to the dealer's website if they have one

- helpful, but see above.

I like one where you can have a zip-code lookup of your nearest dealer, it gets the info to the buyer without listing all the dealers in a big list.

Other nice things:

-many images, esp. of factory/production.
-updated news page with real news about what is going on there, developments, etc.
-interviews, links/copies of reviews, etc.

I appreciate an up to date website with all the new products listed and their features. In the past since I am a Mac man, they have been horrible at doing this. It's almost like they do not want to sell their products. Always more engineering instead of sales related.
Well, one of the first things I can think of is a site that's STOOPID. That's the Synergistic Research Soft Core Porn site. Geez, why can't some guys ever get out of junior high school?!

As for what makes a good site, I want to know about the PRODUCT--specs. Gimme specs. However, I also seem to be drawn to companies that present a consistent and clear vision of their product. VTL, Manley, Cary, PS Audio come to mind. From jump, those sites seem to let you know what's what. I also like sites that have lots of info about their older products. Pass Labs and CJ are really good about this.