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Girlzilla Battles Web Design Villains

Girlzilla.com is mailing 4,000 comic books to build its brand by playing off of its unusual name.

Girlzilla, which calls itself a user-centric design and development firm, is using the “The Adventures of Girlzilla and the H-Factor” comic to help its customers understand exactly what the company does.

The plot deals with “company X,” whose poorly designed Web site has customers saying, “I can't use your site,” “Gosh it's ugly” and “I would think a company like yours would let me do business online.”

Upon sensing the urgency of the situation, Girlzilla springs into action. After assembling her team, she tells company X that it is suffering from a poor user interface. She suggests the 4-D Process: discovery, design, development and delivery. Soon the site's customers are happy and company X is successful — thanks to Girlzilla.

“The comic book explains our methodology,” said Tina Miletich, CEO of the New York-based company. “Girlzilla is an old cartoon alter ego of mine from years back. When I incorporated in February 1997, I already owned the domain name so I thought, 'Let's go with it.' I figured it would be OK with names like Yahoo already out there.”

Miletich said people have struggled with the name. “Everybody who comes here says, 'What's the story with the name?' So I figured, let's bring the character back to life,” she said. “So they can have a mascot that everyone can hold on to. Sometimes people just can't put their heads around a name. [The comic book] makes them more comfortable.”

The company has sent 4,000 of the books to a house list, as well as to names gathered from a variety of sources of potential and past clients.

“It gets our foot in the door. It's also a reminder,” Miletich said. The second volume of the book is in the works.

All of the books will stress the differences between Girlzilla and other design companies. “We actually use cognitive science,” Miletich said. “We design for human factors. We're concerned about things like download speeds, not just about Web design. If you forget about the user, then you're lost.”

Next month, the company will launch an e-mail newsletter. It will contain usability findings about other sites as well as useful tips.

“It will say, 'The best way to navigate through an e-commerce site is this way, and people fail this way,' ” Miletich said.

Girlzilla's clients have included Microsoft, Oracle and Merrill Lynch.

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