axbom.blog on coaching, design and ethics

Talk to me, web site

April 28, 1999

YESTERDAY, I WENT shopping for a new suit at a store called SAKS. In the store I found myself browsing through different models, different colors, pants with or without lapels, vests with five or six buttons and what have you. I was lost.

To my aid came Johan, one of the cheerful store clerks. After shooting a few questions my way, concerning the clothes I liked to dress in, and for what occassions I intended to use the suit, he had me try on a black three-piece model which fit quite snugly. And when I say snugly I mean that Johan had to convince me to try on a larger size. In any case, I fell in love with the suit, although I decided I liked the grey variation more. Johan made a few calls and will contact me at home as soon as my new suit arrives. They didn’t have my size in stock 🙂 Johan also helped me find an excellent spring jacket, and I intend to use him as my personal clothes advisor in the future as well.

WEB SITE DEVELOPERS are constantly searching for ways to attract users to their site. Discounts, games and competitions are there for the taking but e-commerce sites are still struggling for profits. Web sites are juggling new features back and forth as young web developers push the web to its limits with animations, dynamic pop-up menus, mouse-over effects, and every two weeks a complete redesign. Users are lost as the features rarely have anything to do do with making the sale, that which in fact could help the web site prosper. And what strikes me is how little the web sites adapt to basic marketing strategies; When I walked into SAKS yesterday, Johan didn’t ask me if I wanted to play Donkey Kong.

I shouldn’t be expected to find my way around every shopping site on the internet. I know I’m not expected to find my way around every store in Stockholm, much less the ones in London. When I enter a store online, I want to be able to talk to someone who knows his/her way around the site, who “works” there. I want to talk to someone who can give me advice when I’m in doubt. I want Johan on the Net!

As web developers are constantly remodeling to charm new users and keep up with the evolution of the web, they are missing this crucial ingredient in marketing strategy — personal interaction. Introducing live personnel on a web site would undoubtedly serve to pick up online sales. This could be done through an online chat or direct telephone connection as in conventional catalog sales. A helpful salesperson goes quite a long way to making the sale.

THE FAST DEVELOPMENT of the internet forces us to constantly adapt to new ideas of thinking, to new ways of working, and to new ways of conducting business. But does this have to be at the expense of established, successful ways of performing the tasks in the past? Stop a second, take a step back and have a look at your site. Instead of molding the new medium into a store, perhaps we should give the old store a new medium.

Can you smell your way around the Net? Is your browser a cookie monster? What happens when your boss turns out to be a nine-year old? Tune in to WebWorries? every fortnight for updates on woes of the web.

Per Axbom

Per Axbom

@axbom

Per Axbom is a Swedish communication theorist born in Liberia. For two decades he has educated digital professionals and helped organizations with digital usability and accessibility. His job is to listen to people and make sure technology does not become a controlling and limiting factor, but instead a sustainable, caring aid. You can hear his voice on UX Podcast.

Digital compassion book cover Per's recent handbook on managing ethics in tech, Digital compassion, is available to order from Amazon in Kindle format. Send an e-mail to Per for more options.

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