Wednesday, December 27, 2006

check your functionalities: coupon example

[A reprint of an article I wrote for a web developer intra-net blog.]

It really annoys users when they go to a web site and something isn’t working.

Even when everything else is fine, if that one task they wanted to accomplish is not enabled, “under construction”, or difficult to use, your web site loses value and trustworthiness.

I recently visited an ecommerce, online catalog site that provided money-saving coupons.

Since I planned to physically visit the store during my lunch break, and was just checking the product range, specifications, and prices, I didn’t attempt to order anything online.

This site was professional looking, it provided lots of good information about the products, and it was both well-written and well-organized. In fact, it was one of the best sites I had seen recently.

Since I was interested in the products, in fact, I had a crushing need for them, I was naturally interested in the coupons. I was visiting the site, just prior to physically visiting the store.

I saw a coupon for a product that I considered buying. When I clicked on the product name, I was taken to a page that informed me that the page itself was not redeemable as a discount coupon. I had to click on a coupon activation function, to print out the coupon, and then I could take the print out to the store.

Okay, no problem. Ooops. Nothing happens when I click on “print this coupon”.

So then I see on the home page some wording about how a benefit of registering at the site is the ability to download and print out coupons for in-store use. Okay, still no problem. I registered at the site. It was simple and they didn’t ask very many questions, so it was quick.

Now a registered user of the site, I tried again to print the coupon.

Nothing happened. Apparently, the coupon functionality is not working. Fortunately for the company, this problem didn’t matter very much to me, though it was a tad frustrating and professionally disappointing. I visited the store anyway, and purchased some necessary items.

How about your web site or blog? Are you sure everything is working correctly? Broken functionalities and dysfunctional features are more common than you might realize. With so many web sites out there, most people will never return to one that doesn’t work right.

Be sure to periodically, at least once a month, check all your web site functions, or ask a friend, family member, or employee to do so. Check the links, contact forms, registration process, online coupons, shopping cart, email update subscription sign-up, RSS feeds, embedded video or audio players, and any other interactive features you have on your site.

It’s hard enough to attract traffic to your site, and to convert site visitors to loyal customers. The last thing you want to do is frustrate your web site visitors and lower your credibility.

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