Your Web site is the public face you give your customers. In many cases, it’s the initial touch point and a deciding factor in whether someone chooses to do business with you or if they skip right along to one of your competitors. Given it’s importance, have you taken the time to meet your site lately? Have you really?
Even though we design our Web sites with the best of intentions, sometimes we create experiences that we didn’t intend. Below are some Web sites I’ve run into recently in my travels. To help illustrate their flaws, I’ve transformed these sites into living, breathing people. Perhaps consider asking a friend to personify your Web site. Once they do, ask yourself – Would I be friends with this person?
Here, I’d like to introduce you to some of your sites…
He’s the guy your office you skillfully attempt to avoid in the hallway in fear he’s going to open his jacket to show off a line of knock-off Rolex watches. Every interaction, he’s trying to sell you something. Buy this, look here, do I have the thing for you! He smells like a rustic combination of cigar smoke and spearmint Binaca and always leaves you feeling like you need a shower. In real life, you’d rather spoon out your own eyes than share an elevator with this guy.
On the Web, he’s the site that’s littered in ads, spins aggressive sales funnels, and always seems more focused in meeting his advertisers bottom line than really serving the needs of his customer. It takes a youthful level of dexterity to get off the site without tripping an AdWords landmine.
The Vapid Princess
Sure, she’s nice to look at, but don’t even consider asking her to do anything. Her brain won’t be able to render it. Ask for her opinion on something more than the weather or what happened on Bravo last night and she’ll stare at you blankly or service up an answer that has nothing to do with the question posed. It’s not her fault. She didn’t have to worry about forming a personality in high school. She just had to sit there and look pretty.
On the Web, you recognize The Vapid Beauty as that gorgeous Flash site that you can’t operate because it simply isn’t compatible with your device. It’s a designer’s dream, but a user’s nightmare when the information they’re after is tangled in a mess of pretty graphics, conversion traps and too-many options. It’s nice that the site sparkles but it’d be nicer if I could complete my intended task.
When you go to the bathroom, SHE’S RIGHT THERE. When you pull into your parking space in the morning, she’s in the car next to you smiling. When you go to get lunch, there she is, waiting to pounce and pull you into another awkward conversation. The office creeper makes us feel a little watched and a lot of uncomfortable. They’re the person everyone wants removed from the office, if only it were legal to lock someone in a closet and leave them there.
On the Web, The Creeper is that little talking head that appears on the bottom of the screen offering to “walk you through the Web site” or who and “introduce to site’s many features”. No one’s really sure why this option is necessary, but there it is, creeping everyone out along the way.
I mean, you’ve heard he works for the company. His name is still on the company phone tree but he rarely makes an appearance in meetings or even at his desk. Instead, he’s at a doctor’s appointment, at his kid’s recital, woke up with a stomach bug, taking a mental health day, etc. You’ve decided the best option is to stop needing him for anything at work. Because he’s just not reliable enough. Who needs it?
On the Web, Mr. AWOL is the site that won’t load, the one that always crashes, and that never just works when you need it to. Even though your sure he would have a lot to offer if he’d just make it to that meeting, he’s always letting customers down by not showing up.
The Know It All
He’s that little guy in the IT department who knows everything and lives to tell everyone about it. He’s an early adopter on every social network, he has a list of Google shortcuts longer than the Constitution and he doesn’t use anything he can’t hack to pieces. If the question is “did you know”, you can rest assured the answer is a resounding yes. Because he’s in charge of IT, he also knows everything about you – what sites you’re visiting, your Gmail password, and the last five people you’ve dated.
The Show Off
When she’s not at the office, she’s working on mastering one-handed juggling, studying the flight pattern of the pink-footed goose, and working toward the Guinness World Record for the most number of Twinkies eaten in a 24 hour period. Even worse, she wants to tell you all about it when you walk by her desk. It doesn’t matter you only passed by on your way to the water cooler. Now you’ll hear about all The Show Offs many “accomplishments”.
It’s the Web site that hawks the ability to do a bunch of really neat, but completely useless, things. You’re on the site to buy a new pair of jeans but they want you to play with their new widget, download their new app or enjoy their auto-play music. While you’re really happy for them that the Web has blessed us all with fun tools, you’re still only interested in the jeans.
He’s really friendly and eager. Like, really friendly. And with a little more experience he may even become a valuable member of the team. Right now, though, he doesn’t inspire much trust. He means well and he probably doesn’t know any better, there’s just something about him that makes you think you shouldn’t trust him with that new client account.
On the Web it’s the site still rocking the 1990s Web design, the one littered with typos, or the site that hasn’t been updated since 2002. The products look okay and the people look really nice, but you’re still not sure the site could handle your credit card. Maybe you’ll wait to they grow up.
If your site was a person, what would it look like? Would YOU be friends with it?
About the Author
Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.