Plain-spoken Online Conversion Rate Newsletter - covering web design, sales, marketing, copywriting, usability, SEO, relationship marketing and consumer psychology.


Get That Site to Me Fast …

… or else the computer gets it! Web rage! If I lived in an ivory tower, I’d tell you it’s the latest acknowledged antagonistic reaction to the frustrations of our high-speed, technological world. But there’s not a speck of chalk dust on me. So, what I’m saying is simple - road rage mentality has made it to the Web. Folks aren’t just releasing their aggressions on the highways, and when your site doesn’t perform to your visitors’ expectations, they’re apt to turn primal and take a whack at their computers.

I’ve been yammering on about issues of performance and usability for over two years now. So have others. But have enough people been listening? It seems not.

So read on for a little laugh and a dose of perspective. And take heed!

Just before it launched its redesigned Web site, Abbey National, a bank in the United Kingdom, commissioned a study of Web behavior.i What Abbey National learned should come as no surprise to you, dear reader - although the depth of feeling behind some of these reactions should tell you this is serious stuff.

“More than half of all internet users admit to losing their rag with the net at least once a week …. High on people's stress meter is the length of time it takes websites to appear, help buttons that do not offer any help and requests for personal details before being allowed into a site. One frustrated IT manager admitted to smashing up his £2,500 laptop after a web page failed to recognise his personal details after six attempts.”

And how do folks react?

· 7% vent their frustrations on their mice and keyboards

· 2% admit to easing their irritation by beaning a workmate

· 52% abandon a site when it makes them angry

· 26% boycott frustrating sites

· 11% get irritated on a daily basis

There are those who flood infuriating Web sites with abusive email. Others turn to revenge - like the fellow who ordered 1 million pounds worth of merchandise on a bogus credit card after a site failed to deliver.

11 percent of the online user base is a lot of people to tick off on a daily basis! Not particularly good for business, nor for cultivating confidence in consumers that they should consider the Web their commercial venue of choice. Fortunately, the Abbey National study revealed a reassuring piece of information:

· 83% of users revisit sites that keep them happy

Abbey National created a little device to help online users chill out: Moments of simplicity. Folks can defuse their web rage by listening to some soothing music and viewing some therapeutic images. (It also works as a portal to the Abbey National site: “Calm enough? Click to Abbey National’s new website for financial therapy.”)

It’s cute enough, but I’m really hoping it’s tongue-in-cheek. Because if you truly want to give your visitors a useful dose of therapy, you’ll give them what they want: a fast-loading, customer-sensitive Web site.

And in the process, you just may spare the life of a computer.


i “Web Rage Hits the Internet.” BBCNews, 20 February 2002.


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