Thursday, January 29, 2009

Our Web Site Is Awful - Duh!





I do a lot of research online and am frustrated as hell with web sites. Every CEO, director of marketing, etc. should be locked in a room and forced to try and answer a list of questions on their organization’s web site. It would be amazing how many improvements would get made right away.

So in these tough times when we’re all fighting for business, you should revisit your web site and it's ease of use. The problem is that sites were designed by people who either don't use them or are techie. Bad idea. Your web site is the first place people go to learn about you. You have a couple of clicks to keep them.

Pissing off potential and current customers is no way to woo them. With that in mind here are five easy fixes.

1. Cut the Clutter. Most web sites give you a headache just looking at them. Cut out all the junk and narrow what you’ve got down to a few key categories. Simplify – who we are, what we do, why you need us is a good starting point. Eliminate all information that requires more than two clicks to get too. And increase the point size of your type please. For an example of bad – go to any federal government web site. For an example of good try Ogilvy PR Worldwide, MBooth & Associates or forgive me for this but my site www.sterncommdc.com.

2. Give a Phone Number in Contact Us. It is amazing how many corporate web sites do not even offer a phone number to the company. You click on Contact Us and get a form to fill out with questions that you can’t answer and a generic email that might as well be customers@wecouldcareless.com. I don’t want to dig through a site to find out that I’m emailing to someone who doesn’t exist. It’s infuriating and what’s more many companies don’t even bother to answer those emails. Not good for business.


3. Frequently asked Questions
. These just plain suck. First of all whoever wrote those questions never talked to a customer in their lives. Second, I have never once found an answer to my question in FAQs. Third, let’s take a giant step back to the "before time" when real people actually answered real questions. And I’m not talking about someone in Sri Lanka with an accent so heavy I cannot understand a word he’s saying. Didn’t you feel better about the company then – like they actually cared? Didn’t you want to do business with them again?

4. Shorten Your "Home Page." It’s mind boggling how many links are on an average home page. And what’s with all this scrolling down – page after page after page of more stuff to click on. You know what that says to me? No one could agree on what mattered so they just put everything they could think of on it. A really bad offender of this is AARP.org whose home page goes on forever, like an endless car ride. The reason it’s called a home page is because it’s supposed to be one page. To quote my kids DUH.

5. Don't have a Search Bar if it Doesn't Answer Basic Questions About Your Business. I cannot tell you how many web sites I’ve been on where you type in the most basic question and the answer isn’t there. I don’t want to play let’s stump the computer. Go on the American Psychological Association web site and type in What is a Psychologist? It does not answer the question. Go on Intel.com and type in What does Intel do? Stumped the search engine. Go on Aeropostale.com, the site that for some reason emails me every day and refuses to pay attention to my daily requests to be removed from the list. Type in How do I contact you? There’s no answer.

An easy way to fix this. Let's go back to what I said in the beginning. Find people who don’t know much about your business. Sit them down at a computer with your head of marketing and ask them to try to find answers to their basic questions. Change will come fast.

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