So much is happening on the web that allows people to communicate with each other, create content, get work done, it’s truly becoming a rich interactive environment. Many forsee the web evolving to become the new universal Operating System, superceding Windows, Mac OS S and others.
But many web sites continue to be built as if none if this evolution has happened. They are static unchanging brochures that don’t encourage anyone to revisit them or accomplish anything while there. We still build these kinds of sites ocassionally against our better judgement. But sometimes no matter what we say, the client does not listen to our advice. These static sites can serve a purpose. So, I wouldn’t say they suck. They just don’t take much advantage of the web as a communication medium.
On the other hand, a web site that does suck is the kind that purports to offer a service, but does not. I ran across one just the other day. I needed to rent a car for a day while mine needed extra time in a local body shop. I decided to use the web to reserve a car since I am on the web all the time anyway. I used the Enterprise car rental site. I reserved a car. In the process I indicated I would pick it up at 1:30 PM.
I scoffed at warnings from folks in my office that I should call the local Enterprise shop and confirm the reservation. I was too trusting. I assumed that since the web site confirmed the availability of the car at their store in Eureka there was some communication between the site and the local shop. Wrong. When I arrived at Enterprise they acted surprised to see me. They looked up my reservation while saying they had no cars in the class I reserved. They did offer to try to find a car, but it wouldn’t be in the class I had resesrved. Uh, no thanks. Isn’t that a bait and switch scam?
Now that’s a web site that sucks. How can a national company like Enterprise be so lame as to not offer a system that actually tracks availability in real time? It can’t be that hard. Is this common in the car rental industry?
Understand the audience and the importance of good conent.
I too have done sites for clients that insist on building something that makes them happy but does little to sell or tell. We go through all the steps at determining the audience and how they might use the site only to have the client hijack the process.
It is also a battle to constrain the verbous client. Adding so many sections and pages that contain content that is poorly written and often too much to read much less keep current.
Sometimes it’s not so much the web site, but the people behind them. It could be that the people at the local office don’t pay attention to e- communications, preferring instead to work with phones and in person contact.
I’ve seen things like that through the years. The parent company sets up some kind of web oriented way of taking care of business, but the folks down the line aren’t comfortable with computer stuff.
Along that same line, I’ve seen where businesses have web sites and an e-mail address listed, but the e-mail is only checked once a week, if that often. I always tell people, if they rarely check their e-mail, they shouldn’t have it listed on their business site.