Dear [email protected],
I’m writing to you for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I’m a nice person, and secondly because I feel like I need therapy after finally working out how to host through you, and thought that writing about it might help me work out exactly why I felt angrier than a Flash iPhone app developer.
Don’t think I don’t have sympathy for your situation – you probably don’t have time to stop the bus and fix the engine…so you just keep on going and adding bits on with rubber bands and chewing gum, patching things as you go. Which is fine if all your customers are web savvy developers who know what they’re doing or can figure it out as they go along. Are they? No, I thought not. I also don’t expect you to have a perfect product, but somehow it seems you’ve lost sight of the basics of good web and app design.
So, after some deliberation, I’ve listed a few things I think you should look at. You’re welcome!
What you’re doing well
Let me start by listing some of the things you’re doing well.
1. You automatically created an xml site map for me, which was a time saver for me, a life saver for some, and setting up a 404 error page was a breeze too.
2. When someone finally did call me (after I flung fifteen flaming emails into the silent black hole that is [email protected]), he was courteous, helpful and friendly. I still couldn’t send email afterwards, but at least he called me, right?
3. Ummm, can’t think of anything else.
What you’re doing poorly
1. Your Crumbling Knowledge Base is the Centre of Your Universe
It’s a great idea, put all the knowledge down on paper and let users read the answers and figure it out themselves. Works in theory, but then you have to ensure that it’s helpful and that it’s up to date. It’s neither, OK?
2. Your Call Centre Constantly Refer to the Crummy Knowledge Base
Now I’ve just spent hours trawling through pages and pages of techno-speak, and finally throw out a lifeline to a human being, trusting they will rescue me, only to have them email me back with snippets from the page I’ve just read, helpfully copied and pasted into the reply. You’ve created an infinite loop that makes me feel like I’m in the twilight zone…the twilight zone of web-rage!
So, like it or not, I’ve got a few suggestions for you, things that I think might help reduce frustration, and improve customer, and call-centre staff satisfaction. I don’t like writing those emails, and I’m sure they don’t like reading them.
1. Turn your knowledge base into a Wiki and let users update it themselves. This way your content stays fresh and up-to-date and you wouldn’t have to monitor it, the geeks will do that for you.
2. Create personas who represent your top three users and make sure every touch point caters to their needs, goals and questions. One will be me, the ‘fairly technical but non-developer girl-in-the-street’, another will be granny trying to host her holiday pics, and then the ubiquitous tech-geek who does this every day of his life. Put pictures of them up on every wall and always ask ‘what would granny do?’
3. Do usability testing every single day. Get your staff to put forward names of friends and family who match the above three Personas and pay them a few bucks for an hour of their time. Or get people from finance or HR to help out, they usually don’t know much about the product. Show them wireframes, paper prototypes, even mockups in PowerPoint. You’ll find their input invaluable. Just make sure your lead developers are in on the testing or they might not believe you.
4. Simplify a complex process with pop-out tool tips, every step of the way you could be hand-holding your users with helpful, well written, tool tips that contain links or explanations. At a minimum you make sure your alt text is descriptive and that it tells me where the link will take me if clicked.
5. Introduce naming conventions…please! You refer to tabs when they are folders or buttons when they are links and you call things one thing in the knowledge base, but something else on the website. It’s mind-numbingly frustrating to read ‘click on the tab called ABC’ and spend 30 minutes trying to find it only to realise it’s a folder and it’s called EFG. Just because it’s obvious to you, doesn’t mean it’s obvious to Granny, or me for that matter.
6. Don’t use jargon. Write for your least knowledgeable user, Granny in this instance. If she can figure it out, then you’ve succeeded.
7. Naming of actions via links or buttons: You might know that the ‘launch’ button next to my website url will open the Control Centre for hosting, but to everyone else, it sounds as if it’s going to launch your website. Can you rename the button ‘Launch Control Centre’? Same goes for hyper-linking my email address in the My Account section…I thought it would simply spawn an email to me, took me days to realise that it opens a pop up with crucial information in it. It’s all very counter-intuitive, I’m assuming it’s because it was designed and developed by your web developers! Read my blog on the five people who should never design a website.
8. Standardise your navigation – at the moment it’s more confusing than the movie Inception, and much less entertaining. Guess how long it took me to figure out that there are many different control centres? Before you start thinking this is perhaps an IQ issue, let me say in my defense that the navigation changes with every click in some cases. Thank goodness for the ‘back’ button.
9. And if all else fails, just have a ‘call me’ button on your website. Really, you can afford to call me after all the money (and time) I’ve spent with you. Or get a Skype address where I can reach you. Otherwise don’t offer a global service if it isn’t global.
Well Go Daddy, that’s all I have to say about that. Thanks for reading this. I hope you’re able to make some of the changes I suggested. But then again, when you’re as big as you are, maybe you can afford to lose a few customers like me.
Then again, maybe not.
Founder and CEO of Shift ONE
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