Monday, August 8, 2011

Dear Businesses...

I'm a product researcher. I think it became a necessity when I had kids. Basically I don't want to waste money on crap products (or things that we will "out grow" before our time). I also don't want to drag my two kids around the city to 8 stores looking for a particular item and navigate all this around eating and nap times. So I use the internet a lot. In doing this, I get THOROUGHLY annoyed at bad company websites. I don't think they realize how much business they gain (or in most cases lose) because of their poorly constructed and maintained websites. I want to tell them all, but haven't come up with a way that isn't rude.

Here is the email (and variations) I write over and over in my head:

Dear Business,

Today I was looking at your website and found some ways that you might improve it to better help your customers get the product/services/information they're looking for and thus make you more money.

I was going to include them in this email, but I'm not sure that you'll actually get it since the contact information on your site is out of date. The address you list for your company is not where you are currently physically located, so I can't be sure that your electronic address is correct either, but hey, I'll give it a try.

I was looking for a particular product. But your company doesn't actually list the products you sell. Categories of items doesn't count. I want to know exactly what you carry in your store.

You list some of the products you sell, but not all of them. So even though I know I saw the item in your store last week, I can't find it (or even something similar) on your site in order to look closer at the product to know if it is what I'm looking for.

You list your products, but I have no way of seeing the price.

Or if it's in stock at a particular location.

You have spelling and grammar errors. Worse, you're an educational institute.

You don't tell me anything about your business. Like the helpful information that if I were to hire you, I'd like to know about you. If you're going to teach my kid something, I want to know what you stand for. I wouldn't mind seeing your face. There's nothing wrong with making it personal.

You don't tell me the price of your services/classes. "Call for prices" is annoying. I don't have time to sit on hold and you're never around. It also makes me wonder how competitive your prices actually are. If you're not willing to advertise them, I assume I'm getting ripped off. It's one thing if it's a request outside of the norm of what you do, but if you sell packages or classes that are all the same, there is no reason why you can't just list the prices.

You don't tell me the schedule of the classes that you offer. How do I know if my availability and your teaching times are in sync? Instead, I have to waste both of our time in order to find out that we're incompatible.

You use lingo from within your niche, but I have no idea what that means. So how do I know if that's the product/service I want? Please speak in plain English and when you need to, explain yourself.

Your page loads very slowly. If at all.

Your site is ugly. There's even free stuff available that can make it look much better than the plain brown background you picked.

Your font is so small I can't read it.

You have weird text/background colour combos.

Your pages are so cluttered with content that I can't actually find anything helpful. Worse, everything is listed on the front page when you could clean it up with some nice links to grouped information.

Your site is very hard to navigate and the information most people would need is buried too deep. Ever heard of quick links? If I'm looking at a class schedule, I want pricing information and the link to register right beside it. Even in the sidebar would be helpful.

If you offer a service, a portfolio of your actual work would be great. Don't tell me you do something well and then just show close-ups of smiling kid's faces (unless you're a dentist...). Show me what you look like in action with those kids.  Or the finished product you created.

Testimonies/reviews from other customers is also good.

Tell me what you do well, not what other companies/businesses do poorly. Otherwise I just assume you're jealous of their success.

I wonder how frequently people actually ask the questions you list in your FAQ because none of those came to mind for me, but 10 others that you didn't answer sure did.

Hey, you know that product description that the manufacture includes with the product? Put that on your site. Dimensions are helpful too.

You'll get extra points if I can place an item on hold or purchase it and then pick it up in store.

Please put your flyer on your site. If my 1 year old eats the flyer, I want to be able to find it quickly. And electronic versions save trees. Advertising sales is also good for business. I thought that was common sense.

You may think all this is too much work or too expensive, but here's the thing. The business that tells me the information I need to find quickly and easily will get my money time and time again. You may sell something cheaper, or do something better, I have no way of knowing that, so I will assume you don't.

Please include ways to contact you. Please don't just have a phone number or just an email address. Include both. And a mailing address. Sometimes I have different needs in terms of how I need to contact you than what you might assume. Please make it easy.

Please also list your hours of operation.



Do you get annoyed at Websites? Did I miss any big no-no's that drive you nuts on company websites??


  1. ooh, the hours of operation thing is my biggest website pet peeve! but all of those are so true. You should draft a form email and send it out... if nothing else, you might get coupons! lol

  2. If more companies listened to their customers, they might actually make a bigger profit!


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