Eminent Domains: Is Yours One?
Is your Web site user friendly?
Or are you irritating the heck out of the very people you want in your corner?
Worse, could your domain name be an unintended joke that has the world laughing up its sleeve?
Doing Business on the Web From A to Z (Apple to Zappos)
With a free ad in Craigslist I found John Mormando of Eye FIX Macs who came to the house and cleaned up our computers, answered my questions and told me precisely the equipment he needed me to order for his next visit.
After trying to order two products at the Apple Store, I got so confused that I abandoned the shopping cart and went to other suppliers. Finally I came back to Apple to order a Tiger Operating System, clicked to submit the order and found that Apple remembered my last visit and was going to ship me a double order including products I had ordered elsewhere.
I could find no way to change the order. I called Apple when the phone lines opened, and was told the order had shipped and it was impossible to change it.
I am now involved with the hassle of returning product and hoping my Visa account is credited.
Compare this nightmare experience with buying shoes from Zappos.com. I click on the style of shoes (casual walking), size (8), width (4E) and on the screen comes an array of shoes. I like New Balance. I pick out two pair of shoes, give my credit card and they are on their way.
Web Sites Gone Bad
I had dinner last week with a very smart guy I have known for a long time, Russell Perkins of the InfoCommerce Group (www.infocommercegroup.com/), and we got talking about how smart companies can have dumb Web sites. (An aside: For one of the very best conferences on how to do business on the Web, visit the InfoCommerce Web site.) For example:
* I told Russell about trying to order Jockey underwear from the Jockey Web site. I found my style and size. I typed in “4” for the number of three-packs I wanted to order and clicked on the “Checkout” button. Up pops the message, “If you are new to JOCKEY.com, please register.” What followed was a series of questions: Name, Address, E-mail Address, followed by Password (2x), Password Hint, Birthplace, Password Question, Phone Day, Phone Evening and Personal Guarantee I was over the age of 14. I did not want to register with Jockey; all I wanted was underwear. In the words of Draft Direct’s brilliant (and very funny) Emily Soell, “I don’t want a relationship with the guy who sells me aspirin. I just want my headache cured!” I went to Nordstrom and ordered with no hassle.
* Recently I went back to Jockey.com and discovered that a customer is not required to register any more. Instead, you are forced to “Create a Google account to complete this purchase.” I have a Visa account. I don’t need a Google account. Google snoops enough into my life without knowing my credit cards and every purchase I make. What is Jockey thinking?
* Monday morning I got a message on Yahoo! from The New York Times: “Because you’re a TimesSelect subscriber, you can start earning points by doing the things you love to do—like dining out and shopping online with just a click,” the writer gushed. “Plus, when you enroll you’ll get a free subscription to zagat.com.” The page ended with “ENROLL: It’s Free!” I typed in my e-mail address and password, and up came my account with The New York Times—including my credit card information (i.e., VISA Card #***********2379). If the offer was free, why was my credit card info listed? Clearly it was not free after all. My trust level with The New York Times plummeted to zero. I was outta there in a mouse click. What was the Times thinking?
* Russell told me that he ordered a computer product. The order was confirmed. Several days later he received an e-mail saying that the product was “either out of stock or discontinued.” No contact name or number was given to determine the status of the order. Weeks later the transaction is still in limbo.
* How about when you return to a Web site after a long absence? You sign in, and are told that your name is already in use and please sign in with a different name or create an account. When you try to create an account, you are told to use a different name, because your name is already taken.
* Some Web sites require a password that must be eight characters or more and must contain both numbers and letters—thus guaranteeing you will not remember it and be subjected to a huge hassle the next time you log on.
* A substantial percentage of Web site designers fail to list the street address and phone number of the company, thus hiding its whereabouts.
* Who can I talk to? Many Web sites will not list the name of a person for contact information.
Choosing a URL
When I grew up on Long Island, our telephone number was Cedarhurst 3084. Pick up the receiver and a live operator would come on the line and say, “Number, please.”
I remember after the War (WWII) as a prelude to dial technology, the number was changed to Cedarhurst 9-3084.
Now phone numbers are just that—long strings of numbers.
With the Internet, we have the luxury of mnemonics—a Web address that uses letters of the alphabet and helps people remember our personal or business name, the nature of our business, or our hobbies or loves or pets or children. For example, my Web site is dennyhatch.com.
When coming up with a Web site, make sure your new URL says what you want it to say, rather than something quite different. The following e-mail from Ed Zuckerman of the invaluable Government Policy Newslinks (www.policynewslinks.com/) illustrates how URLs can go very wrong:
Everyone knows that if you are going to operate a business in today’s world you need a domain name. It is advisable to look at the domain name selected as others see it and not just as you think it looks. Failure to do this may result in situations such as the following (legitimate) companies who deal in everyday products and services but clearly didn’t give their domain names enough consideration:
1. A site called Who Represents where you can find the name of the agent that represents a celebrity. Their domain name … wait for it … is www.whorepresents.com/
2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at www.expertsexchange.com/
3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at www.penisland.net/
4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at www.therapistfinder.com/
5. And now, we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales: www.molestationnursery.com/
6. If you’re looking for computer software, there’s always www.ipanywhere.com/
7. Then, of course, there are these brainless art designers and their wacky Web site: www.speedofart.com/
8. Want to holiday in Lake Tahoe? Try their brochure Web site at www.gotahoe.com/