time I see a website that sucks, I can hear the
background banter of its developers and programmers.
“So it's not completely obvious,”
they’re saying. “It's not that hard. Let
them figure it out. They'll get used to it."
These dudes sure put a lot of faith in the patience,
motivation and resiliency of their visitors!
you've heard me rant about all those design pitfalls
that spell death to an e-commerce website. But let's
take a broader view. I want to paint a picture that
helps you understand the stuff your average
prospect goes through even before they land on your
website, so you'll see even more clearly why
designing a delightful experience for them is so
critical to your sales. You see, Joe and
Josephine Consumer are also Joe and Josephine
suppose you head out in your car to go shopping. You
know what you want to buy. You know this neat
new store you heard about actually has the item in
stock. You think it's gonna be a cakewalk. But along
the way you get stuck in a really snarly traffic
jam. It's a blistering hot day. Your car overheats.
It takes hours to fix the problem. Finally you're
back on the road. Only now you discover there's a
detour ahead. You thought you followed all the
signs, so how come you're lost? Another hour of
wandering and eventually you locate the store.
Naturally, you have to park on the other side of the
planet. Guess what kind of mood you are in. Guess
what's going to happen if that neat new store does
even the tiniest thing wrong.
there? I thought so. Now, here's the cyberspace
equivalent for most (let me repeat, most)
folks out there:
out a personal computer.
Plug this in where? Start what? What's a task bar? I
don't see any windows on my screen!
What's an ISP? What do I really need? Why can't I
just plug it in and go?
to use e-mail.
Okay … I get the bit about not needing stamps …
to use a browser.
Omigod, if I click will I cause the Fall of Western
Civilization? Whew, I’m there but… how the heck
do I get back??
to use navigation, hyperlinks, frames and forms.
Go where …do what … how? How come this flashes
at me? Hey, it changes color! Where the heck am I?
You want me to give you this information?
Why? You just fed the whole form back to me. What
did I do wrong?
What am I letting onto my computer? I go where to
to use plug-ins.
I need what to do this? Says who? That's what they
think (said while clicking off to the next
about pop-up boxes and drop-down menus.
Whoa, where did this come from? What am I supposed
to do? Why won't it stay on my screen?
cryptic error messages.
It killed my computer! Error 404? Get me out of
legitimate business from scams.
Who am I to trust when there aren't any faces?
after negotiating all these hurdles (and maybe a
vodka on the rocks or two) do they arrive on your
site. Give them any reason to leave, and they
a better appreciation of what you’re up against
now? You can't do anything about the frustrations
Joe and Josephine have endured before they find you.
But once you've finally hooked up, you need to be especially
kind to them. The whole trick is in making Mr. and
Ms. Basic-User - not Mr. and Ms. Techno-Whiz
- want to stay and want to buy from
you! Make it worth their while to have figured out
everything it took to get to your site. And
remember: while you’re (always) one click away
from goodbye, your competitor, who has taken
the time and made the effort to create a smooth,
simple, safe and delightful experience for them,
is just one click away from hello.