Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A website I like and why


Delta Airlines is the world’s biggest airline, with tens of thousands of employees and a reach of 64 countries.

Its website could have made us suffer with endless text about its history, mission, and values. It could’ve weighed us down with flashy animation on the homepage.

It does none of this.

Instead, it keeps the site deceptively simple, keeping upper most in mind exactly what the customer wants to find and quickly.

The site is refreshingly free of what I would call “corporate ego.” Instead, it brands itself clearly with a large site ID at the upper left but keeps the focus of the home page on just a few large navigation panels.

Once you click on one of those panels (‘book a flight,’ ‘flight status,’ etc.) you can get quick and easy info. The site offers lots of other useful information by clicking on one of the top navigation bars – for example for baggage. The navigation to the baggage information is simple, and the baggage pages are well done. They use ample sub heads and bullets, allowing the customer to easily get the info they need.

The site makes it easy for me as a potential flyer to get the top priority information I’m looking for. Then if I need to, I can get other necessary info to complete my business with the company.

The Delta site has successfully blocked attempts to become full of itself. Instead, it has disciplined its content to be useful and easy to find. This website has dropped the corporate ego and has stayed laser-focused on the needs of its customers.


Upcoming post: Good web writing

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Empathizing with web users


At a recent networking night for web content strategists, one professional made this remark, “We’re really in the business of empathizing.” The emotional core of that remark struck me.

Websites are supposed to be empathic? Yes. After all, what are we doing when we work so carefully to focus on the “user experience?” Sure, we have to focus on our products. But we establish and maintain online relationships through the use of empathy. Without this key ingredient, websites come across as cold and calculating.

Take this site for I Love Buttons. It confuses the user. It lacks warmth in its look and feel. It does not lead the user into an easy-to-follow process for selecting and purchasing the product. It lacks empathy for the person coming to the site. If I were searching for online buttons, I would spend very little time on this site. It’s almost like the company threw as much cold content as possible onto the home page and hoped people would respond.

Compare it to this site for Just Buttons. The feeling is dramatically different. The site makes the product very clear by using a large headline. The user can follow the page to easily get more information. It has a calm color scheme and intuitive navigation. It has plenty of white space. It lets us find what we need quickly, with an appealing look and feel. The site is saying, “Come inside and make yourself comfortable.” I want to buy products from companies that make me feel at ease.

A dictionary definition of empathy is, “understanding and entering into another's feelings.” We “put ourselves in the customer’s shoes.”

Of course, empathy alone doesn’t drive business goals. But think of yourself as a customer and ask yourself what you would rather have—a garish promotion or a warm invitation?

Emotionally inviting, empathic websites are simply a better way to do business.

Upcoming post: A website I really like, and why