I really don’t care about your company’s worldwide sales structure

Someone showed me their shiny new corporate website the other day. “Have a look at this”, they said, proudly. They typed in the URL, clicked on the world map to tell the website where we were, and …hang on a minute; they did what? Yes, as a visitor, the first thing they had to do was to click on a world map to let the site know their location.

Talk about putting up barriers. You read that right: the first thing the website shows, on the home page, is a map of the world with a message “please tell us your location”. Nice. Even better – as I awkwardly hover my mouse over the UK, I’m informed that I live in somewhere called “EMEA”. I’m already quite touched by the personal greeting I’m getting here. It would be bad enough even if the website explained why it was asking me questions before it tried to sell me something – perhaps “we need to know where you are in the world so we don’t show you all the products your local distributor isn’t trusted to sell”. But there isn’t even that courtesy. The website seems to shout: “Who do you think you are, turning up unannounced?”

To be fair, I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen websites where you have to select where you are from a drop-down list of 200 countries, a real pain (as we all know) when we live in a country at the end of the alphabet. As I’ve said before, I always giggle when I see “United States Minor Outlying Islands” next to “United Kingdom”, but that light relief doesn’t really make up for the irritation I’m being put through. Look, if Google can show me adverts based on my postcode, then surely any website could make the effort to at least work out what country I’m in, couldn’t it?

It can, of course, and many do (quietly, behind the scenes of course). Try this to see what can be done easily with the GeoIP service – it should be accurate enough for most needs. There’s a free version of GeoIP which will cater for basic country identification, and there’s plenty of discussion online about implementing the data. Sure, you need a PHP programmer, but it’s preferable to asking your website visitors to do the work, isn’t it?

And please, never tell me I live in “EMEA“. I really don’t care about your company’s worldwide sales structure.

Discussion

  1. Eoin Ó Riain

    I feel your pain!

    My aversion is total lack of recognition of my country – Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom in these poor peoples’ minds. The EMEA is recent invention to tease you.

    It is like these sites that one has to register to see material – including some magazine sites that ought to know better. “You want to see our Video? Register here!” I rarely do register especially if they want me to invent yet another password with seven charaters and a capital or a number but not a dash….doh!

  2. Paul Bragg

    We’ve been using GeoIP for a few years although it’s worth noting that the visitor location is not always 100% accurate. Some large corporations route all their traffic through one gateway which may not be in the same country as the visitor who is looking at your site. Fortunately we don’t have too many countries to cater for so visitors can skip between our country sites using small icons of national flags. We’ve yet to see a huge inrush of visitors from United States Minor Outlying Islands but our tech support team are ready to fly out to them if they have any technical issues. (assuming that it involves sun and palm fringed beaches)

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