The horse had escaped. And she was chasing the baby goats around the field. And the dogs just ate the bucket of chicken eggs. And I was trying to change a diaper. Then, when I got out into our pasture, I discovered that the water in the sheep’s trough had frozen overnight, and they were bleating and looking forlornly at the ice.
Ten minutes later, everything had calmed down. Crises averted, I returned to my computer and what I had been working on. Just before all hell broke loose, I’d succeeded at the seemingly impossible task of finding a string of connecting flights between the U.S. and three European countries for a business trip I am making this summer.
I was at the “click to book” point.[click]…
“We are sorry but your session has timed-out due to inactivity.”
“Inactivity! What the…?”
Twenty minutes later, I finally managed to get the entire trip booked. That frustrating little incident got me thinking about how websites so often let down their visitors – and what more you can, and should, be doing for your own customers.
Life happens – and it often gets in the way. But how many websites actually take that fact into consideration? For instance, why don’t website forms with a time restriction offer the user the ability to save what they’ve already entered if they’re unexpectedly called away before they’re done?
Or how about another bugbear of mine: Only after you’ve completed a website’s form does it tell you that your phone number should be formatted in a certain way or that your password “must contain a minimum of eight letters and numbers, one of which must be a capital letter.” Or that you must not enter your credit card number with any spaces. Er… um… but mine HAS a space in it.
Take a look at your own website right now. Look at it through your customers’ eyes. And see if any of these little gremlins are lurking – places where you or your programmer made an assumption about what your customers should already know. And then vanquish those hidden problems forever.[Ed. Note: David Cross is Senior Internet Consultant for Agora Inc. There’s a lot you may not know about building an Internet business. David has the answers – and he’ll be sharing them with an exclusive group of business builders at ETR’s 5 Days in July conference.