Article: June Campbell


The Small Business Library

November 10, 2000

You Lost Valuable, Free Publicity.
What Were You Thinking?

I've visited your ecommerce web site and I have to ask:  WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

You have merchandise for sale. You made me work very hard to find the price. I clicked through at least four links per item to get that information. I actually had to put the item in my shopping cart just to find out how much it cost. Just because I have wasted my time puttering around your site to find the price doesn't mean that I will now feel compelled to purchase the item. To the contrary. I am annoyed. Will this encourage sales or repeat visits? What were you thinking?

I visited your site looking for contact information. I'm a writer. I planned to discuss your products in an article I'm writing for a widely distributed magazine. Your site offered no contact information except an email form. The form forced me to include my message in one of several inappropriate categories and then send it away to a generic info@something.com address. To find your phone number, I had to run a Whois search on your domain name. In the end, I decided to write about your competitors' products instead -- someone who is a little more friendly to the public.
You lost valuable, free publicity. What were you thinking?

I visited your site looking for information about your products. When I tried to leave your site, I discovered that I was trapped. I cannot use the Back Button on my browser to return to other sites that I have recently visited. I click on Back, and your page simply reloads. You might think it is a good thing to prevent me from returning to a competitor's site. Let me assure you, it is not. My annoyance prevents me from buying and I am disinclined to return to your site. What were you thinking?

I visited your site looking for product information. I wanted to use the part of your web site that is designed for people with low bandwidth connections, but I had no choice. Your technology detected my fast ADSL connection and automatically you directed me to your heavy-bandwidth Flash page. But some of your Flash screens don't load properly and I have difficulty reading your content. Your astonishing animations are distracting. I cannot copy and paste your contact information into another document. If I want to contact you by phone, fax or letter, I have to write that information out by hand or by entering from the keyboard. I want to use your old fashioned HTML pages, but you won't let me. What were you thinking?

I visited your web site and was greeted with music and assorted sound effects that I could not turn off. Rolling my cursor across your buttons and links generated a loud and bothersome sound. The noise irritated people who were trying to work nearby, causing them to ask me to stop doing whatever it was that I was doing. This time I went so far as to email your webmaster to explain the problem. I received the suggestion that I turn off the speakers on the computer when visiting your site. I think I won't be visiting your site again. What were you thinking?

Then I visited a site where prices were clearly displayed, information was readily available, I could choose whether or not I wanted sound and I could choose whether I wanted the low bandwidth site or the high bandwidth site. When I clicked on the Back button, I was able to return to the previous site easily. I won't ask what you were thinking, because I already know. You were thinking that you would make things easy for the customer to use your site and to make a purchase. It worked for me. I bought your product and I love it. Thank you.

June Campbell's writing has appeared in several international print and online publications. Her web site offers a number of resources to small businesses - including guides for proposal writing, business plan development and more.
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