Hi All, today we have a website which belongs to a kind of L’homme orchestre: a person who says that he can do everything for your website: WP Developer, Designer, SMM & SEO guy etc etc.

Ok, let’s see what we have here. I will not go deep in optimization, broken links etc – other reviewers will say about those errors, I’m going to focus on something that is not too tech… or something barking. All screenshots are clickable. (more…)

Today I have a website to review. Canada-based start-up RideCheap.me offers inter-city car-sharing rides. Well, let’s see…

It is one-page website because the main part is an app on your phone.

The page load starts with a splash/wait screen: spinning something. It is a bad practice, moreover, guys, you have a static webpage, why it is so slow so you want to use the annoying and not informative ‘wait screen’? One of the answers is: background deck image is ~0.7MB. Background!!! Perhaps the whole page except the background is smaller.

When you point at the circle your mouse shows you can click. Relax, you can click million times and nothing happens. The same if your mouse is over the proper text.

Those guys say you can pay to drivers with bitcoin. Hmmm, I’d like to see more details but there’s nothing about it.

Reading further…. One moment please, I have just read the same text! Just compare:

– vs. – 

“Awesome support”. sounds good, but wait a bit:

For your safety we develop an Alarm Button in app. Our community helps.

So, a young lady is in a car with a nasty driver, then harassment starts, the lady presses the button and what? Community helps! If that girl was my daughter I’d prefer she gets help from police, not community. On the other hand, if the lady started harassment then someone from community would be glad to help, I think! :)

A bit more about support: “You can always contact us for any matters.” Sounds good too. Have just tried to find a way to contact from the webpage but found email only. Hope the owners will engage a ticket system in the nearest future. It is definitely not the main thing for start-ups but it lets the owner to get feedback which won’t be lost in spam, cannot be deleted just by mis-clicking and – when you grow a bit more and hire someone – won’t allow your staff to ‘lose’ a claim or important info.

Scroll down a bit and here we again see something which should be clickable, but in fact is not:

What is absent and what I’d be glad to see on the page:

  • Unfortunately there’s no details about commission.
  • It’d be pleasant to see how much drivers and rides in my city for the last day/week – both at the webpage and in the app. Why? To know the app isn’t in my city yet, or if it is already there.
  • It is important to the passenger to see how many drivers are available right now.

That’s over for today, feel free to contact me if you need a review!

Long time ago, when internet was slow and browsers were stupid, we could see a lot of specially crafted pages which welcome you when you hit the website for the first time. Loooooooading.....At that stone age the splash screens were necessity: there was no other way to ask visitor which language s/he  prefers or whether to direct to low-weight or heavy content depending on the user’s connection speed. Also, users behavior was different: we opened each page as a photo-album or a glossy magazine: the cower was important part of the content, the prelude we’d like to enjoy, the overture user like to listen.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, We need the info faster and faster but recently the splash screens became in trend again. Unlike great-grandma’s dress, it looks really annoying and stupid. Here’s reasons to use it (a while ago) and why you should not use it now:

  1. to show that the page is being loaded. The main reason nowadays. Hey, just throw away all what is not needed, tune up server, leverage cache and make it fast! Visitors will appreciate it much more than moving lines/dots/pots. Moreover, half-loaded website is often complete enough to select the next page we want – if we’re still on our way to wherever we want to be – whilst we should sit and wait until that nasty splash disappears.
  2. as an aesthetic complement to the main page. Really? Seriously, do you believe that a user comes to a shop page, corporate website or to a blog about gadgets/kittens/travel/websites/kitchen to get an aesthetic delight??? Don’t lie to yourselves: 99.99% visit your page to receive an info (+perhaps to buy if you have a shop). Get it right: appearance is important, but it is not the goal – for most of us.
  3. to insert a flash animation (like above but even worse). Are you still using that middle-age technology? Poor Yorick, I pity you.
  4. to direct users to the appropriate website for their country or language preference. Use browser’s ‘Accept-Language’ header and GeoIP instead.
  5. to direct users to a low-bandwidth site. It is quite easy to get processing time of the very first “text/html” item, so you can detect it.
  6. to inform visitors about site requirements such as used browsers, screen resolution as well as used Flash, Java, Quicktime etc. “We require IE5+ and 800×600 or higher”, yep. See: Google(+YouTube), Yahoo, Amazon, FB, Twitter, whole Wiki, OpenStreetMap, GitHub, Bloomberg, CNN, BBC and many more – ALL of them feel well without those “Flash, Java, Quicktime” – just using HTML5 and JavaScript. If your developer/designer  insists on any of this – 99,9% you need another dev/des. If s/he insists you need that technology on the main page – you 100% need another dev/des.
  7. Visitors can select the preferred view mode – for instance, standard mode and fullscreen mode. Add the  ‘fullscreen’ button in the proper place instead.
  8. Multiples sites share the same domain. If domains aren’t cheap enough for you then make informative main page – with correct navigation.
  9. Splash page is supposed to include hints for browsing the site and explains the main sections. “Hey, you should use arrows on keyboard only!”. If it is not a game then think twice or even thrice. Shouldn’t it be obvious how to use your website?

There’s some cases when it can make sense to use – not a splash screen but rather pop-up div with shadowed background:

  1. as an additional form of advertising. if it not the main/landing page of the website and you want to draw attention to super-discounts you have right now. Nevertheless I’d rather like to see a banner than something which hinders me to find what I’m looking for.
  2. to direct user to page which is more accessible to disabled users. Nevertheless, use large enough fonts, build menus so it can be reached with ease when the page is being read out. Consider more contrast theme, put control elements to switch to page for disabled users or to change font in expected place (top right corner)
  3. to restrict access to content such as pornography, alcohol advertising or sales, or gambling. Probably, the only case when it really makes sense.

The last nail to a coffin: in some studies 25% of visitors left a site right after seeing a splash page instead of heading into the website itself. That is a large number of people who have just abandoned your company. (source)

I haven’t seen such unpretentious design for a quite long time. Warm greetings to Cogeco/Peer1!

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Are your surveys show customers are satisfied, but sales are languishing? Then your surveys are suck. You ask incorrect questions or don’t ask the correct ones (I do not consider those ignorant who don’t ask clients’ opinion at all).

Examples:

  • The most frequent error is one-question survey: Dear Client, you bought XYZ. What do you think about this product? (1-terrible 5-perfect) The question is more or less OK (rather ‘better than nothing’) but the point is what you didn’t ask there. The client may be totally satisfied with the product but furious with service/sales team however there’s no way to show that.
  • Like previous but vice versa: after chatting with on-line support you show Please let us know how good was support’s answer. No one support member can help if your product is suck or if company’s behavior is silly, whatever he/she says.
  • The previous two items could make you think you should ask customers about all of that every time. It’d be good but it makes sense to make the survey as short as possible. But you NEED those answers. What’s another most common error? There’s no option to add something which doesn’t fit in previous questions.
  • The survey don’t ask for the customer’s contact and/or permission to contact. Not the most frequent but the most terrible error. If John gives 5 stars to product or support but 1 star to the company you should want to call him immediately!

Keep in mind correct time. You bought XYZ day before yesterday, could you please rate the product? If XYZ is breakfast in your restaurant then it’s too late to ask, he/she forgot already unless it was something terrible. If you sold washing machine then it’s too early. For such long-term products it makes sense to ask after a week or a month then every year (maybe with connection to client’s birthday). You got many birds with the same stone:

  • show the client she/he’s important for you
  • remember them you’re existing
  • got valuable data!

Make it possible to send you an idea/complaint anytime, either your business is off-line or on-line. Too many mobile apps do not receive their stars just because they ask for the rating at the wrong time.

Please remember to track answers, so if today you’ve received “I threw that #$%^3$%# phone away last week” then it doesn’t make much sense to ask about the same phone next year, huh? Instead you may want to express your sorry about bad phone and do something to improve your relationship – asap. Unprocessed answers are wasted money.

If you’re asking for suggestion or opinion make sure it’s easy to proceed with the questionary, don’t barrier it with e.g. ‘registration required’, ‘IE only’. Make sure it works for both desktops and mobile.

Customers are the most valuable asset of any company. But the responders are even more valuablier because (even if they are not satisfied) they agreed to spend THEIR time to show YOUR errors and to make YOUR company better.

And yes, I’d be glad to see your opinion on my articles too, either here or via my LinkedIn profile! Please don’t forget to leave your email data if you’re answering in comments or via contact form. I appreciate it very much!

Imagine: today morning you’ve found your car has five golden wheels, square mossy steering wheel and windshield decorated with skeletons and kittens. Or better, your morning coffee (or tea) has noble blue color and tastes like a good umbrella? Or, even better, you open LinkedIn and see shiny new design?

Well, the latest example is a bit out of row: I don’t pay for it, unlike we usually do for car, coffee, and (for some of us) for Windows. And yes, I know the design was changed about a month ago :)

The new taste and new color were born deep in super-designers labs of super-companies, so why don’t you like your new tie out of quarter inch stainless steel? A bit heavy? Come on, it shines like mirror, isn’t it beautiful?

I believe you got the point. I can’t remember other industry in the World except IT where vendors change whatever they want without asking customers who pay whether they really need the change or not and, more important, without giving any possibility to stick with the old version and sometimes (hi LinkedIn!) without testing on real users – volunteers.

WHY? Omit free accounts, but for paid ones (hi, Windows start menu change!) – WHY?

If you display a time-sensitive data then your visitor may need to have an auto-refresh option. There are many browser plugins, but of course  it’s better to reload the chart or the table only instead of the whole page.

The button at the left so far is the best one I’ve seen. Possibilities:

  • you can always see how long ago the object was reloaded just looking at the blue ‘progress bar’
  • manual reload
  • switch the reloading off
  • of course select the refresh interval
  • it takes minimum of the screen space (the black menu disappears when you’re not working with it)

What can be improved here? Of course intervals. Depending on your needs you can either add/remove/change intervals or re-do it completely using two separate fields: the first one for the amount and the second one for the time units (e.g. seconds, minutes, hours).

Disregarding of this small imperfection this is really the best option I’ve ever seen.

Feel free to contact me if you need a custom interface idea or review of the interface you have already!