Thursday, April 23, 2009

not quite online booking

I need to visit Cleethorpes - my home town - on business next month. So I thought I would see if I could get a room at my favourite hotel on the sea fron - the Kingsway. Now, the hotel's site doesn't do online bookings at all - not too unusual as many independent hotels find it more cost effective to let third-party agents handle this rather than buying in and running the necessary software.

So I put the hotel's name into Google and perused the various third-part listings. Several offered online bookings, but I was looking for the best price so I kept looking - and came across Now ,I do not know their business model, but their booking form looked like this:
Yep, that's not a booking form, it's an email form. Not only would I have to wait for them to return my enquiry with room rates, availabiliy etc, but they expect me to give them more details than is necessary [phone number?]. Being the old synic that I am I wonder if I would end up on their mailing list?

Any-whoo ... I went back to one of the other sites and booked online with a confirmation of price and availability done and dusted there and then

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

informality pays dues

I always advise organizations to match their web presence to the ethos, style or character of the organization - and here is a good example. Acre Resources is a recruitment firm specialising in CSR, Sustainability, Climate Change and Environment. As befitting a company in that industry, they adopt an informal approach to the way they go about their business - which is reflected in their website's design.
I particularly like the 'meet the team' page on which staff are represented not by their pictures or avtars, but 'jelly babies', clicking on each figure brings up the bios of the various staff. Nice touch.

Monday, April 20, 2009

phone me and I'll pay

It is still beyond me that folk will hand over their credit card in a restaurant and let a member of staff take it away, but are unwilling to use the same card online. However, such people exist, and if you are selling on the web you have to facilitate them. Here is an excellent example from - you fill in all of your information [order, delivery address etc] on the online form except your credit card details - then click on the link and someone phones you up. Nice.

Friday, April 17, 2009

'ello John, want a new motor?

I was looking for cars on the generally excellent autotrader website, which seems to work OK even though it keeps telling me I need 'additional plugins'. Following a link for a particular car I was taken to the website of Arthur Haslam Motoring - and got this ...

And do you know what Arthur? I really was looking for a car. And the car you had was of interest ... but there were others on sites that downloaded on my PC.

What is the opposite of kerr-ching?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

lazy like a Fox journalist

OK, perhaps mis-guided rather than lazy, but take a look at this sentence in a report on SEO and terrorism [I'm not commenting on the story, just this description of SEO]
So SEO is 'arcane' [definition: mysterious and secret] and 'makes sure your site is near the top ...'

Well, there might be an element of secrecy about the algorithms - but mysterious? Much of SEO is science - and by definition science ain't mysterious. Even the 'art' elements [eg picking the keywords] are as mysterious as painting a picture - skill isn't mysterious. And it tries to get you to the top of search results pages, any competent SEO practitioner will tell you there is no 'makes sure' about it.

I suppose this just hi-lights to me that what I think of SEO is not shared by the general public - but then I should know this from teaching the subject - even web-savvy 20 year olds who have grown up with the Internet are largely unaware of how search engines actually work.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

problems with the BBC ... again

After using the BBC as a model of good online practice for years, I am coming across too many examples of dubious practice - and here's another.

This time it is the fact that some radio programmes seem to have two web pages - depending how you get to them, the 'Pick of the Pops' show has two seperate websites. Hmmmmm?

Friday, April 3, 2009

it's that airport geography problem ... again

Virtical search engines are great. Take finding a holiday for example - simply select the key elements that you are looking for and click on search. Which is what I did on Expedia. Sadly, Manchester is around 120 miles from Newcastle, my chosen departure airport - and the only place I want to fly from.