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Web content and digital marketing

Website owners – maybe it’s time you stopped making your customers feel stupid

You don’t mean to but it’s possible some of your potential customers look at your website and feel a little sad.  They have come to you with an open wallet and a need to be understood.

What do they get? A barrage of trade talk and a website that’s harder to navigate than a spud mountain on a tricycle. Or else, they feel stupid because they’re treated like an idiot. You know how some people shout pleasantly at those with whom they do not share a language…. HEL-LO SIR, CAN YOU PLEASE T-ELL ME WH-ERE THE NEAR-EST TOY-LET IS? A bit like that.

I’m still a little raw from a recent experience I had when trying to buy something online. For argument’s sake, let’s just say, a freesat PVR.

As digital TV well and truly gets a hold of all corners of Ireland, I had assumed that I’d get quick, understandable answers to very simple questions. I had hoped that I’d log on, there would be an approximate description of my very common query/situation followed by a big ‘buy now’ button.

It is a technical product which will require installation. That is true. Some of these sites may be for technicians and installers too. That is true too.  But I was ready to buy and had a rough knowledge of the area. And I was ready to learn more.

With every site visited, my wallet opened a little further. At one stage, I began to rub a €20 euro note on the screen. I wanted to get rid of some money. I came across endless grids of highly technical products. I understood some terms but not all. As I went between sites to explain some phrases, I began to doubt myself. I grew irritated.

When I thought I had found what I was looking for, I began the purchase process. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small detail which was actually a gigantic issue. I thought…‘It doesn’t have this, but that’s the whole point…..’ This was clearly a case of me being in the target audience but needing some guidance and education. I’m not stupid but I felt stupid.

I drifted on to a news site mid-purchase as I made up my mind. An email came in around then. I responded to it. I forgot about where I had been and wondered briefly why I had seven web pages open explaining various aspects of digital TV features. This should never happen to an ecommerce provider.

The other extreme – idiot speak, is less annoying but I can see what they’re doing. They are ultimately a kind person who is trying their best to be understood but just comes across as condescending. You can get away with this, depending on your target audience.

Communicating with your target audience in plain language is what we all need to do. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Ask yourself ‘if they come ready to buy, do we make it easy? And if we don’t make it easy, maybe we should do….’

I gave up. The subscription cable guy has come and gone.

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