Is Your Website Convenient?

    April 11, 2003

A fundamental promise of the Web is convenience. Why get in your car when you can sit at your computer? A fundamental building block of the business case for a website is self-service. By automating certain processes, costs are reduced, and the customer gets faster, cheaper service. Is your website fast, cheap and convenient?

A 2002 RoperASW/AOL study found that one of the key drivers for the growth in online shopping was convenience. The study estimated that people who use the Internet from home save, on average, nearly six hours a week by going online. Seventy seven percent favored the Internet over every form of traditional media for gathering information on the products they were interested in purchasing.

Convenience is a key characteristic of the modern lifestyle. ExxonMobil understood that the quicker it got its customers in and out of its gas stations, the happier everyone would be. To achieve this objective, it launched Speedpass, a radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

With Speedpass, customers wave an RFID tag in front of a reader at the gas pump. Each RFID tag has a microchip with a unique serial number for that customer. The data is fed to a central database, and the customer’s credit card is billed automatically.

Speedpass has been a great success. Customers using the system are likely to make one additional purchase of gas per month, generating a significant increase in revenue.

One thing I could never understand was the ‘sticky’ website concept. What sort of an impression does the word ‘sticky’ give to you? Being stuck. In a big jar of honey. In a spider’s web. No, sticky is not something you want to be unless you’re setting a trap.

The one word that best describes people on the Web is ‘impatient.’ They want to get in and out as fast as possible. And that’s understandable when you consider that the Web is in essence a self-service environment.

What are the basic options when choosing between McDonalds and a plush restaurant? McDonalds is cheap, fast, with so-so food. The plush restaurant is slow, expensive, with wonderful food. Sometimes you want McDonalds. Sometimes you want the plush restaurant.

When people are on the Web they’re generally in McDonalds mode of thinking. They want it cheap, they want it fast. Self-service makes the promise that if you do some of the work yourself, things will be cheaper and faster.

Look at the Amazon business model. It is built on the fundamental principles of convenience and cheaper prices. Now, the nature of your business may not be pricing-related. However, if you’re on the Web, you’re in the business of publishing information.

When someone visits your website they have made a choice. The choice can involve not going into town, not picking up the phone, not browsing through a magazine. They have chosen your website because they think they can get their questions answered. They expect your website to be convenient.

But is your website convenient? Is it designed to get people in and out as quickly as possible? Remember, you’re not in the business of designing fantastic meals here. You’re in the self-service business. Fast, cheap and convenient.

For your web content management solution, contact Gerry McGovern

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