Good websites save time

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I’ve just had an exchange of emails that started at the “Contact us” page on a company website. The website provided an enquiry form, I filled it in and got an email reply. I replied to their email and they replied to mine.

What’s the problem? The problem is that it was all unnecessary. The information I wanted could have been on the website. If it had been, I wouldn’t have needed to enquire and they wouldn’t have needed to reply.

The underlying problem is that too many organisations see their website as an opportunity to tell you what they want you to know, rather than what you in fact want to know.

In our web writing courses, I tell people that their websites exist to answer users’ questions. If they design and write their websites with that in mind, they save their companies time and money that is otherwise wasted in answering customers’ queries.

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2 Responses to Good websites save time

  1. Will Blackstock April 27, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    So, Susannah, what’s the best way to find out what your customers want from your site? Do you recommend a bit of market research or publishing things and waiting to see what the most common questions are? Should websites uses FAQs? Are there any other better methods?

  2. Susannah April 27, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Thanks, Will. It’s simple: what do customers email you or ring the office to ask? If you have a helpdesk or a customer services team, log the queries and feed them back to whoever runs the website. As for FAQs, they are, or should be, redundant. They never seem to answer my question, just waste my time.

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