Every now and again a
star emerges from the postbag who has been bottling up a rant
(or two) under even more pressure than yours truly. After my
piece despairing at the corporate web presence (in body if not
mind) of first Black and Decker and then Sony, Geoff Lane
of Manchester Computing is a kindred spirit.
lousy corporate web sites are the norm, not the exception.
I was attempting to get access to the online banking service
on www.barclays.co.uk. I
was, of course, foiled because the site only worked with
Microsoft or Apple browsers.
This was eventually fixed a couple of months ago (about
the same time as the Barclays "Big" TV promotions
started) by implementing bog standard digital certification,
something they could have done at the start.
Anyway, there were some serious problems with the site
so I tried to contact the webmaster on firstname.lastname@example.org;
unfortunately although there was _something_ listening on port
25 on the server, it wasn't accepting email.
So I tried the "feedback" web page which
failed with "Object not found" errors.
I then tried the phone helpline but discovered that a
24hr online banking service had a helpline that was only open
8-to-8 (I tried at 10pm) and didn't have an out-of-hours call
these problems may now been fixed, but the way that Barclays
just didn't want to communicate was worrying - what if I'd
found a security flaw rather than bad design?
example; HP have a large web site with all their past and
current products featured - HP is obviously proud of their
products. But HP
doesn't sell directly to the common people.
I was looking for a price for the Jornada 820 and the
relevant HP web page had a link to Dixon's home page but after
a search I discovered that Dixons didn't stock the Jornada
820. I didn't buy
one, how many sales of WinCE devices have floundered for the
too many corporate web sites are set up by the PR department
and have flashy, slow to download, home pages with zero
effective content.< Often hidden behind these barriers are good sites but as the
home page has no obviously useful links the browser will just
move on before the images have finally finished loading.
many corporate web sites hide their content away in opaque
databases thus preventing search engines from seeing the
many software company web sites are plain lousy which makes me
doubt their capability in authoring software.
Far too many pretend that their products have no bugs.< It seems that they don't understand that there are only
important reasons why someone visits the site...
I'm looking for product info including
probable retail price.
I've a problem with a product
and need support and/or patches.
I've discovered a bug and
want to report it.
I can't see obvious links to pages where these facilities are
presented I'm going to go elsewhere.
- 'nuff said. There's
a common complaint that people are just not using the web to
buy stuff.< In my experience only companies such as Amazon have actually
"got it" so far.
The site may not be cool, or post-modern, or
fashionable but they do get you to the point where you can buy
something with little delay.
if only web sites would realise that they can't continue to
deliver during the working day.
I WERE IN DURING THE DAY I WOULDN'T NEED TO USE THE WEB, I'd
just get OddBins to deliver.
why can't the delivery company call first to check that
delivery will be possible? Oh no not even when given the
number and a request to check.
But they are perfectly happy to deliver a second time
-- is this any way to make money?
another one: I
just tried to buy some compact flash memory from
www.misco.co.uk (they've had a phone/mail order business for
years.) The web site is OK (but you have to enter your
name/address details before the shopping basket will accept
entries; this means you have to enter fake details if all you
want is a total cost to compare with other suppliers.)
order was accepted, I got email confirmation of the order and
day later I received only half the goods ordered and the
delivery address was mangled in a manner that suggests to me
that all they do is print out the web-based orders and hand
the sheets over to their normal mail order system where the
details are re-keyed by hand (and in this case complete with a
partial, misspelt delivery address.
this is starting to sound like a rant…"
no, please don’t apologise. Any more readers that can save
me the trouble of working up the blood pressure for the
monthly rant are warmly welcomed to do so.
The serious issue here
is that the mishandling of the “ecommerce experience” by
so many sites that are run by people who just “don’t get
it” is causing the entire genre to suffer from the “All
ecommerce is crap” syndrome.
And before anyone
asks, despite the tar and feathering Black and Decker received
in this magazine, there was no effort of any sort made to
contact me. So
next time you are thinking of power tools, then try Makita,
Elu, Power Devil, Bosch and anyone else I missed – I have no
direct experience of any of those (yet) but they could not
possibly be more indifferent than Black and Decker, if they