The web that I am interested in is the corporate website. I’m with Sir Walter Scott on this one (if you have trouble sleeping, read his work, Marmion, at least the first six Cantos). I have spent many hours the past few days analyzing websites of all sorts. Gartner has written extensively on the topic of what constitutes a great website over the years, and some businesses really get it. Some sites, especially in retail, are mostly focused on a limited perspective of selling stuff. Others in the automotive industry seem to not know what their goals are: inform, market, influence, or drive you to a dealer.
But most of our web sites are horrendous. And guess why? At least six teams are working on their little piece of the puzzle, and none of the teams owns the customer experience. We end up the customer experience equivalent of a Winchester Mystery House (http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/): Links that lead to nowhere, search threads that yield irrelevant answers, email requests that disappear into the ether, chat sessions with people who you spend three minutes waiting for and then give you another 45 second delay after they say, “Hi” and you’ve said hello in return.
We are working on a new set of research that takes the customer’s perspective in designing and building a web experience. This is becoming more critical in a down economy, and as more and more consumers in parts of the world begin to use their mobile devices (especially the iPhone in the USA) for location, pricing, sales, opinions, and in-stock information. Essentially, the mobile platform will be expected to be an augmentation of the web experience: clean, consistent, helpful, fun.
I have a suggestion: take the description of what your key-influencer customers want from you on the website, and then sit with them as they go through the experience: check out the content, the self-service capabilities, the configuration engines, the navigation and search capabilities. Is the customer having a good time and leaving the sight feeling successful? Untangle your web, and it just might end up a stickier place to capture customers.
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