Does your website do what your visitors need it to do?

I’ve just had one of my worst web experiences for a long time. In fact, one of the worst customer relations experiences, because I gave up on the offender’s website in the end, and went for the telephone option, only to be given three levels of “options to help us serve you better”, none of which were relevant.

The website concerned was The National Lottery, which you might think looks pretty clear at first glance. What I wanted to do was to buy a 52-week subscription for someone as a present (a novelty gift which I’d bought before on a couple of occasions, and which was very well received). This time I could find no mention of subscriptions, or indeed gifts, for that matter. Eventually, I discovered way down in the help section that subscriptions were now called direct debits (which was not what I wanted), but the real howler here was that the link there for setting up a direct debit just dumped you back on the front page.

Now, I don’t want to bore you with too much detail on my Saturday morning frustrations, but there’s a lesson for us all here. Turn off your computer and write down a list of questions that your customers or prospects might be asking when they come to your site. Then go back to your website and see if there’s an obvious path to the answers from your front page. Even better, watch someone else trying to find the answers to those questions (if you can bear to look).

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