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.