Red Sheriff has a new deputy and he's keen to dispel the myth that the company offers an online ratings service in New Zealand.
"We've never done that here but everyone seems to think we do," says Marcus Lloyd, newly employed business development manager for the New Zealand market.
"Red Sheriff in Australia does offer a ratings service - they employ a panel of users and have a broad install base of websites using the software to monitor usage and they do put out a ratings list. We don't do that here." Which begs the question: what does Red Sheriff do? Qualitative research, is the short answer.
The New Zealand company launched in July 2000 during a period of worldwide expansion for the Melbourne-based company. It moved into 12 new markets in the year, but has just undergone a rethink of its corporate plan and laid off a number of staff, including the original New Zealand employee, Jonathan Dodd. The other New Zealander, research manager Kiri Carter, has also left and Lloyd is looking for a replacement.
"Basically everyone who left during the restructure has been replaced."
Lloyd plans to spend more time helping companies construct websites that better reflect their corporate business branding as well as being easier to use.
"We set up user panels and watch from behind a one-way mirror to see how people use the website, how they navigate around. It can be quite an eye-opener."
Lloyd says by being involved in the development process as early as possible, Red Sheriff can help both web designer and client produce a better site.
"I'm also going to be holding weekly get-togethers for people in the industry. We'll have a topic, like shopping cart abandonment or search engine placement, and then we can talk through the issues, chat with peers and find out how others are fighting the same battles." He hopes to foster a sense of industry rather than seeing companies struggle to solve the same problems in isolation.
"Why reinvent the wheel?"