What Does Your Web "Front Door" Look Like?
Let people in immediately. Don't make them knock
or ring or look for the doorbell. March 11,
Synopsis: In a recent search
for a shipper to deliver a pallet of my repetitive
strain book I was once again knocking
on web front doors, this time of truckers, and found a profound
In one of the
earliest things I wrote on this site, in March 2000, I showed
between two online loan sites and how one catered to the
web visitor's need for instant information with "no strings
attached." Recently I saw that same comparison played out
five years down the road. How much do you think has changed?
I needed to find a shipper for 600 pounds of books from Allentown,
PA to Chicago, Illinois. The key was learning the magic phrase,
in this case, "LTL" which stands for less-than-truckload.
(Have you, too, found that many web searches are totally fruitless
until you learn a secret word?)
After learning the secret word LTL, I quickly found this website: http://www.candctransportation.com/,
image below. If I gave you ten-to-one odds would you bet $100
on how to get a quote in one click? After all, it says in big
red letters, "One click does it all!" Try their
live site before
reading any further. I'll wait here. Hopefully it still looks
like the screen capture below.
Maybe it wasn't as hard as I suggested. There is no "one
click" of course. That's just marketing. But to even enter
the site you have to click the (Freudian?) circle being penetrated
by an arrow. Even then you don't see a quote form. Is it
obvious where to click on the second page? Not as obvious
as it should be.
I had to try a few other top hits on Google before I found
one that is what I want as a visitor and makes my point:
the link on Google takes you directly to the page shown here,
prompting you for the job specifications! Here it is: http://www.freightnshipping.com
(It turns out that the link on Google isn't directly to
their home page, but it's the result that matters.) Now certainly
the "After" site still makes all other paths
and purposes accessible, but it puts the key task---for me
at least---foremost. Do you doubt that MY(!) key task is
representative... that it's the most important thing to
put at the front door? I don't. Consider for instance, after
I've used F&S for my shipment. I'll want to track a shipment
or reprint an invoice. Will I care if they're not the front
door tasks? Of course not.
I don't have a lot more to say on the subject. Of course
the "acid test" is which site (or company?) is ultimately
more successful. There's a lot involved in that, isn't there?
But is there any question which design will ultimately prevail
in a customer-driven world?