Website Misery

A recent study of small businesses found some surprising results.

The majority of respondents were dissatisfied with their websites in some way — 76% thought they needed improvements, 40% were unhappy with the amount of business the site generated, 23% didn’t like the quality of the design…

Well, it’s true that there are plenty of bad websites out there, but I’m not sure that these numbers necessarily show intense dissatisfaction. After all, we’re seeing that 60% are happy with the amount of business their sites generate, which seems surprisingly high. How many businesspeople are satisfied with the amount of business they have? And more than three quarters of respondents like the quality of their design — in fact, the percentage of people satisfied with their design is higher than the percentage who feel their sites could use improvement, and I’m inclined to think that most sites could use improvement.

Here’s the stuff that caught my eye:

  • 44% said “Commissioning a website was a confusing or frustrating experience.”
  • 41% said “Web designers try to confuse us with jargon.”
  • 30% said “It was hard to find a web designer who understood our business.”

Now, this is a true/false test, and we’re still looking at 70% finding someone who understood their business. Having worked with everything from a stage hypnotist to manufacturers of biologicals, I know that grasping the nature of a business can be a challenge — though it’s a challenge that I enjoy. Not all of my clients understand my business, either. 30% doesn’t seem that bad.

Still — 41% believe that web designers intentionally try to confuse them with jargon? Nearly half found the whole business confusing and frustrating? Add those concerns to the feeling that these people don’t even get what your company does, and you can be looking at some unhappiness.

Those are distressing numbers.Clearly, we web professionals need to work on our communication skills.

But I’d like to suggest that you — if you ever find yourself in such a situation — take the bull by the horns.

If you don’t understand something, ask. It’s easy for us to lose track of which terms are jargon. You spend a few years referring to pictures as “images,” and you forget that most people don’t use that term in that way. Don’t assume that an unfamiliar term is being thrown around in order to confuse you.

If your web professionals don’t understand something, offer. It’s easy, as I said, to lose track of what’s jargon and what isn’t. Plan on spending a little time explaining your business, providing documents, or paying for research time. If it turns out not to be necessary you’re ahead of the game.

My own company makes a priority of communication, and we strive to make sure that the website building experience is a positive one. Numbers like these reinforce the importance of this goal.





2 responses to “Website Misery”

  1. ecommerce web design Avatar
    ecommerce web design

    I commend this article for being transparent. There are really lots of website miseries worldwide. Ignorance plays a significant role to this unwanted misery on the web.

  2. Rebecca Haden Avatar
    Rebecca Haden

    I agree. There are probably very few other fields in which clients routinely know so little about what they're buying.
    Client education is part of the solution. Helping our clients become more knowledgeable without condescension can go a long way toward increasing satisfaction.

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