Here is a simple rule: if you’re building a web site make sure it:
(1) works; and
(2) looks good.
The order here is important.
What does it profit someone to have a site which looks like a million dollars but which doesn’t actually work?
Here is my theory: the better a given web site looks the less likely it is to actually work.
A recent example …
I figured I’d get me some of that noise canceling goodness.
(and, in case you’re reading this Larissa, this purchase decision was not influenced by sitting beside you this week! ;-)
I had an uneasy feeling from the moment I hit their home page. The main navigation links unfurl onto the page in a very pretty (but otherwise pointless) Flash animation.
The real fun started when I got to the check-out.
There are pretty well understood conventions now for how an online check-out should work. Don’t make me think.
Instead, here is the Blackbox check-out page:
So, I select the product I want and click the “Go To Payments Page” button.
An error message is displayed: “Please check your personal details”.
It turns out that all three steps are contained on one page – with the second and third steps hidden in collapsed sections at the bottom of the form. To get to the second step I need to click on the “Review Purchase Summary” bar, although there is nothing to indicate that it’s a link. It doesn’t look clickable, and the mouse cursor doesn’t even change to a hand when I hover over it.
Then, having made it through the form I get this:
Unfortunately, the re-direct doesn’t work. And there is no obvious way to click-thru manually. I can’t get to the page where I enter my credit card details.
The net result: I haven’t purchased the headphones and my confidence in their brand is dented.
I wonder how many sales they miss because of a website which looks great but which doesn’t work?