To Captcha Or Not To Captcha

Like many businesses we have online forms on our website to make it easy for prospects to get in touch with us. Unfortunately like many businesses this means we also get a lot of spam. Did I say a lot? I mean a ton. It’s frustrating and takes time to be cleared out of the in-box each day. So much so that my husband and I have discussed adding a captcha option to our forms.

If you’ve not heard of captcha before I’m sure you’ll remember a time you’ve filled out a form online and had to enter some funny looking characters before you could submit it. I also suspect you had to fill it out a few times because they never seem to be accepted first go. Now I don’t know about you but this frustrates the heck out of me – I just want to submit a form – why are you making it so difficult?

So I suspect you know what we decided. Not to captcha. Its a fantastic idea, and definitely has some uses, but why should we make our prospective clients lives that much harder to make our lives easier? It just doesn’t make (business) sense.

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The Employable Web Designer by Andy Rutledge

I hear many hopeful web designers explain that if they had better tools they’d be able to create better work. Andy Rutledge’s great article The Employable Web Designer debunks this and provides a great list of skills one really requires if they want to succeed in website design.

Note also that nowhere in this list do the words Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, or Fireworks appear. As I and others have observed plenty of times before, tools do not make a designer. Anyone can learn to use Fireworks or Dreamweaver in an hour or less, but nobody can be a competent Web designer unless they possess a foundation in the things listed above. Choose your own tools and learn to use them, but don’t let the tools define your abilities; tools won’t create a place for you in the profession.

If you’re wanting to become a web designer it’s a must read. In fact if you’re wanting to hire a web designer it’s also a good read. Web design requires a broad range of skills, that if the designer doesn’t possess reduces your chances of a successful website.

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Managing Your Online Reputation

At some stage it is likely you will come across a bad review of your website somewhere online. I say likely as the proliferation of review websites has become big business.

So what do you do if a bad review happens to you? Firstly, don’t panic. For all the positive ways the internet allows you to promote your business it also allows people to tell others about their experiences with your business – both good and bad. This doesn’t have to be bad. Remember you can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time and a business that just has glowing reviews might make a prospective customer wary. However the way you handle those bad reviews will say a lot about you and your business.

So what to do?

To start most sites have a feature that allows management to respond to a review. Take advantage of this by responding to all the relevant reviews. Address the issues raised and make sure your replies are courteous and well thought out. Believe it or not I’ve seen responses where the management bags the customer which only makes them look worse.

You may also want to encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews for you. Make it easy for them by having a computer set-up where they can review you quickly and easily. It might also be worth offering them something in return – obviously letting them know that what they write is up to them.

A bad review won’t be the end of you as long as you take the initiative to attract positive reviews as well. I don’t believe this type of services is going away so it’s better you address it head on rather than just hope they disappear over time.

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Customers Want To Know When Their Goods Will Arrive

Selling products online? If you are then take note: let your customers know when they should received their order. I’ve ordered from two different online stores in the last 24 hours and neither of them gave me any time frame for delivery. In both instances I received confirmation of my order but no delivery time frame. It’s such a simple thing to include and pretty much essential in my book. It gives the customer peace of mind that their order is important and being shipped as soon as possible.

If you sell products online do you include delivery times? If not I suggest you get onto your web designer straight away and rectify the problem.

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Too Many Web Designers to Choose From?

With the number of web design firms around getting a website should be easy. Sadly too often the opposite is true. There’s too much choice along with too many differences in services and price.

What to do?

Obviously budget is important but I feel it is far more important to choose a company that can meet your expectations. A company that can understand your business needs and provide a strategy, and develop a solution, that will fulfill those needs. A company that will listen to you and explain concepts in a language you understand. A company that understands a website is about more than looking pretty or ranking #1 in the search engines. A company that understands that those elements are just part of the equation – the site must convert those rankings into sales.

Sure look at prices but also look at how they communicate with you and how confident you are in their ability to provide what they promise. You want to build a relationship with your web designer that brings you both success. Focus on that when you’re reviewing proposals and it should help guide you to the right company.

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