Feb 282008

Are You Satisfied With Your Site?

Our firm helps retailers improve their web conversion. (We do a lot of paid search too, but this post isn't about that.)

As a result, we speak with lots and lots of retailers about their sites.

I sketched the following graph after a long day on the phone talking to current and prospective clients. Yes, heavy sampling bias. And no, based on no real data -- I just made up the curve. But it still feels roughly accurate:

nobody likes their site

The graph proves it conclusively (smile): just about nobody is satisfied with their site.

We all want to do better, and we know we can.

Your thoughts?


4 Responses to "Are You Satisfied With Your Site?"
Dan Shields says:
I think the biggest issue with Ecommerce design is it is no where near the the standards of say the sites you see on CSS galleries. As a front end web developer, I was a bit scared of joining an ecommerce team. I had recently contracted with one of the larger Ecommerce web firms and was a bit put off by the lack of concern about web standards. It seemed all the focus was on the core functionality of the backend and the designs were not using the latest trends you see with most web design firms. I started working last year for one of the clients of that firm and have had a fun time trying to push the standards. They listen to what I have to say and let create the pages the way I see fit. I think this is the first step to where a company can start being happy with what is out there. The power of CSS lets you change things much quicker then a site that doesn't use CSS the right way. A lot of sites still try to fake it. You see them putting all this Web 2.0 fluff all over their website, just because its cool and everyone else is doing it. Yet they still have code that looks like it came from 2000. All this functionality bloats the already poor design. You don't see any sites that actually try to take their design to the next level, meaning bringing up to par with what the other industries are. Or they go way over the top and completly forget all about Usability, for example the latest Moosejaw redesign. My suggestion to other Ecommerce companies would be to look at some of the CSS Galleries out there such as CSS Mania. Think of how you can incorporate some of these techniques while keeping your site simple, clean and usable. Embrace web standards, take the time to think about how you can implement new features in a way that sets you apart from your competition. You don't have to add all the new hyped up widgets, keep your site clean and I mean both in design and code, it will only make things easier in the future.
Beyond design and code, many retailers also struggle with tortured business logic and site flow. To use Model-View-Controller terminology, your thoughtful comment above on standards and CSS is about getting the "V" right. Getting the "M" and "C" right is critical and challenging, too.
Dan Shields says:
You are absolutly correct. But I all to often find that companies are way more willing to shell out cash and invest in engineers to add all their crazy featured bloated sites then to actually realize that the front end is no longer something to just blow off. In a dreamworld the team of engineers both front end and back end a long with designers work together as a unit to produce quality applications. I am happy to say my current company provides me this dream, I just think the business owners and executives of most companies tend to underestimate the value of a quality front end engineer.
Julie Power says:
That's funny. It seems every person I've met lately at conferences sheepishly mentions his or her Web site, and then adds, "But we are about to change it," "It's awful," "I feel embarrassed about it," or "It's a work in progress."

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