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Website design is important.  Let there be no mistake about that.  That is an interesting and fascinating topic in its own right.  What I am talking about though is much broader.  You can have a very cool looking website; you can make it easy to navigate within that web site, but still make your overall customer experience totally SUCK!   In fact, that seems to be pretty much the norm.

I am a customer.  Let’s say I want to buy a pen on-line.  Is it really necessary for me to create an account?  Do I have to give you my e-mail and make up a user name?  I can just about guarantee that the first N names I choose will already be taken.  So I end up with some impossible to recall username like, PTERESWOODIRON465.   Sure, I will write it down.  Along with 43,235,309 OTHER user names I have.  Then, of course, I need a password.  Of course, I could make up something simple and easy to remember like PEN or even PENPASSWORD.  How secure is that?  Or, I could pick a password that I use on other sites.  Even worse.  Or, I can make up something really hard to crack and marginally hard to remember like trumpetpalmcandle.  But I’ll probably still have to write it down because it will be YEARS before I go your site to buy another pen.  Meanwhile, if you really suck, you are going to ask for demographic information as well.

Now, before we get stuck in the details of what the screen looks like that asks me for this information and whether to use a scroll down list for the state name, can we go back and ask WHY I really need an “account” to order a frigging pen?  Of course, the dream of the site owners is that once I have an account and keep getting unsolicited email from them about all the wonderful deals they have on pens, I will be unable to control myself and buy another pen several times a day.  NOT LIKELY!  Extremely Unlikely, in fact.  Here is my overwhelmingly normal pen buying behavior.  I DON’T.  I go stay at the Motel Six where they leave the light on for me and I take their pen.  It doesn’t bother me in the least that it says MOTEL SIX on it.  If it writes, I use it.  This is not going to change because of your wonderful website design even if it is relatively simple to put in my username and password and then give the details of my upbringing.  What I AM going to do is get so PO’d at the idea of yet another web account that I am not going to buy a pen at your site at all.   I am going to go to Amazon where I already have an account and buy it there.   If I’m really PO’d, I may even tell my friends what an idiotic company PEN INC (fictional name, I think) is for forcing me to create an account just to buy a pen for my nephew’s birthday.  Even sadder is the fact that no-one in PEN INC will ever have the slightest idea that they not only lost a sale but created a really bad customer experience.  — !PSI