Sunday, November 3, 2019

Standard practice offline not repeated online

If a product is discontinued as a stock line at DIY supermarket B&Q its space on the shelves is taken by a new product or the facings of neighbouring products extended.

Not so online.


But it gets worse.

Elsewhere on the site a smaller size of the product was available.


Saturday, October 26, 2019

SunLife hanging on

I can't even remember doing anything that would warrant SunLife sending me an email, so it could have been spam. 

Any hoo ... when I clicked on the 'unsubscribe' link, instead of the usual one-click to unsubscribe, I had to fill in a form.

Not illegal, but very poor practice likely to upset folk more than the 'spam' email.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Do as we teach ... not as we do

I'm a big fan of Google's Digital Garage initiative ... but in this example they got it wrong.

Yep,  on a page about courses for building a website a chunk of the text is over-writing itself.

Now, I'll bet the designers would say that it is because I'm using Firefox [the page does work properly on Google-owned Chrome :-) ] but that's being company centric not customer centric.

Sadly, this is not the first time I've had problems with the Digital Garage ...

Friday, August 23, 2019

Not so good at showing what you're good at

The University of Sunderland was justly proud of its QS Stars award.

Shame it wasn't too bothered about the web page that trumpeted that award ... otherwise the images on it wouldn't have been broken.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Don't you want any customers?

I'm not even going to promote this website by telling you the business's name. 

This is what you get if you don't give them your email address when you arrive on the site.

Ho hum.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Not just access to my data ...

I bought something on - and on the 'purchase complete' page, I saw this ...

I have to admit that I didn't realise it was an ad - I assumed it was a promotion from Argos - but when I clicked on the banner I got this message, which made it obvious that it was from a third party.

As I use Chrome, it seemed like a good deal, so I clicked on 'activate coupons', and got this ...

So I then clicked on the 'add to Chrome' link and got this

Really? Allow 'Piggy' to read and change all of my data on every website I might visit in the future? 

Change it to what? For what purpose? The mind boggles.  

Need I add that I hit 'cancel'.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

to visit you must agree to ...

if you want 'expert' advice ... ask someone who knows what they're talking about

Like a number of other similar companies, domain name seller and other online services provider GoDaddy has been doing a lot of TV advertising. And like a lot of similar companies, the 'expert' advice in the ad is ... how should I put this ... shite. 

GoDaddy have come up with an ad using that cheeky cock-er-nee chappy and jungle survivor  Harry Rednapp. It's not a bad ad - and a homeless charity is benefiting - but that's not the point of this posting. The point is the advice given to the ex-football manager.

His foundling business is called 'Harry's Roly Polys'.  And the domain name presented by GoDaddy is - as presented on the side of his van in the TV advert.

So I fired up the interweb and put the URL into a browser, and got this ...

Yep, my security software was blocking the site. The usual reason for this message is that the domain is forwarding the user to a website on a different domain - you know, in the same way an online fraudster might.

So I tried it on another device - and sure enough, I was directed to the got the same site as in the ad [see the first image above].

A bit of searching on Google turned up this page, presumably developed for the ad campaign [the business doesn't actually exist]  ... which sits on 

Now ... this got me thinking. 

If they had asked me - or someone like me - about the domain name I would have used I would have taken a couple of steps back and had a think [note: in much the same way as I've been doing since 1996 - some three years before was even registered].

To start with, there's the company's proposed  name. It uses the possessive apostrophe - which cannot be used in a domain name - so I'd have asked if it was necessary. In this case [study] that the business is Harry's is essential to the plot of the advert - and so too, the fictional business - so it stays put.

The next is how do you spell the words/term to be used in the domain name.

Well ... as it is an adjective - and in this case, compound - the proper spelling is roly-poly. I have to wonder if anyone at the company actually knew this or even bothered to look it up?  

So I would have gone with  the brand name being Harry's Roly-Poly and the domain name - or maybe 

I checked, and as of the date of this post, these are available. Even with Harry's Roly Poly being the brand name, I would advise GoDaddy to register them - if only to prevent someone from registering them - then putting them at the top of any searches [for anything like the term] for nefarious reasons.  This would be a basic aspect of domain name security for any organization. 

Then there's the suffix. GoDaddy have hosted their faux business on .uk rather than The latter is preferable as it is better recognized by users. I wonder if the company advises all of its UK customers to go for .uk? The skeptic in me wonders if they make more money from a .uk sale than a 

[PS: I'm not even going to bother with the issue that the plural of poly should be polies, not polys - GoDaddy have gone with the American version.]

So ... does all of this matter? Some folk - obviously GoDaddy - would say not. I say it does. But my biggest problem is that the evidence suggests that GoDaddy did not even consider 'my' alternative option.  

I might even suggest to GoDaddy that they could have had an 'advice' page which took time out to explain all of the above to potential customers. I would call that good customer service by helping them  in choosing the right domain name.

And finally ... maybe all of GoDaddy's staff have been so busy 'advising', or making TV ads, for the last three and a half months that they haven't had time to change the year on their copyright notice.

Friday, March 8, 2019

uppercase nonsense

Yet another example of an online form being rejected because I used lowercase instead of uppercase, this time from

In 'digital' parlance it is referred to as UX - usability experience. In good old fashioned sales parlance - that goes back to when Ugg sold his first bit of surplus dinosaur meat - it is about not putting up any barrier that the customer has to go through to make a purchase.

Just tell the techies to set up the form field so that it accepts both upper- and lowercase for all characters.

footnote: it got worse - I had to put a space between the two numbers in my postcode. I despair.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

I'm still waiting ...

Note the date of this post: February 24th ... 

UPDATE: March 7th.  Well ... it's taken them 45 DAYS, but KLM have replied saying the system is working now. There's a relief.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Christmas is coming ... or has it just gone?

Obviously, as spring is almost upon us, like everyone else I'm looking to get my garden in order for the summer [yeah, right 😜] ... anyway I came across the website of a local garden centre - which seemed to have been trapped in a time warp.

But here's the kicker - and it's why I get frustrated with organization's attitudes towards the web ...

I have shopped at this garden centre for years. It is very good. The folk that work there know their stuff. 

But if someone who had never been there found this on their website they might actually wonder if it is still trading. Furthermore, it's a bit out of the way - would a potential customer decide to make the journey based on this website?

I'm absolutely certain that if a sign outside, or on, the premises blew down or got damaged it would be replaced as soon as possible. That would be the sign seen only by passers-by and customers who were already there. 

Yet the website - seen by an untold number of potential customers - is ignored for months.

Worse still is that I've been saying this for more than 20 years.

Ho hum.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Booting up a deal

I normally rail against pop-up appeals to join some scheme or other that impose themselves when you arrive at a site's home page - but at least this one offers 10% discount on your first order.

Given the price of their boots, that's an acceptable bribe from Doc Martins. 

Roamers get it right

Purveyors of desert boots, Roamers, have put some thought into their e-commerce site.

Here's a couple of things that I liked.

First there's a nice sales 'trick' - though I mean that in a positive way. Like most clothing, there is always the issue of size - is their size 10 really a 9? To address that issue - in sales we'd call it a barrier - for just a pound you can buy a returns label. On a 30-odd pounds product, that sounds like excellent insurance.

The second thing I liked was the out-of-stock message. It didn't end with the message, it offered to email me when they were in stock. The double whammy for Roamers with this is not only am I pleased at the service - they get my email address: that is ... the email address of someone who is actually interested in their products.

Why adidas is going uphill - in more ways than one

OK, so I've been a fan of adidas for, well ... longer than most folk reading this have been on the planet [I got my first pair of sambas in 1971, I didn't dare tell my mum how much I paid for them].

But, that has no influence when I see good or bad practice - and this is excellent.

I came across a marketing article about how the sports and leisure wear company was entering a new marketing - hiking - and, at the same time, changing hiking's 'stale' image ... so introducing the pastime [sport?]  to a younger, trendier audience. 

Win-win all round; adidas sell more product; people get fit, adidas tick the box for doing their bit for the heath of  everyone on the planet.

Having read the story, I thought I'd take a look at the product in question - Free Hiker Shoes [I'm assuming 'shoes' will sell more, they look like boots to me?].

And sure enough, there is an online [only?] campaign to launch the shoes, which, as it happens, is tonight [full marks to adidas' PR folk for ensuring the marketing story was published today].

And here's the relevant web page on ...

Nice clean page design. All the necessary info is there. And there's a countdown clock to add a sense of urgency [always good to encourage sales]. If was into hiking I would want a pair. Heck, I walk a lot, I do want a pair.

PS If you're thinking 'that page has no price' - the price was on the link that took me to this page. And that price? Nigh on 170 of our English pounds. Pricey? Yes. But not for the target segment adidas is aiming them at.

Why M&S is going downhill, an example ...

So I was surf-shopping on the Interweb for a jacket.

Amongst the opinions presented to me by a  Google shopping search was one at Marks and Spencer. 

This means someone at M&S had made the effort to ensure their product appeared as a result of this search. 

However, sizes are a funny thing, and I wanted the jacket for when I travel abroad for work, so it needed to be 'roomy' to be comfortable on flights. Which meant I wanted to try on several sizes, essentially to buy one that is - by size - too big for me.

So I clicked on the 'find in a UK store' link, where I put in my postcode - and got this:

That's it. One store. 

Yes, it is the one closest to me, but they [the digital marketing team at M&S] obviously think I am incapable and/or unwilling to travel to any one of the numerous stores they have in my area. Perhaps I do only want to shop in Sunderland, but they could try and tempt me to another by telling me where the jacket is in stock. Indeed, one of their biggest stores in the country is at Gateshead's Metro Centre, which is just down the road.  

And here's the kicker - and it relates to my non-marketers in digital marketing rants - if I was in a store and they didn't have my size, any decent sales person would ask 'shall I see if they have one in another branch?' and then ask where I would be willing to travel to.

And if decent sales folk were involved in the development of e-commerce sites they would tell the techies to make that happen online. 

It ain't rocket science, it's just good old fashioned customer service. Or is that good old fashioned sales?

This data-driven marketing really works ...

... errr, think again.

Check out this message I got in an email this morning.

It's for a theatre I've never been to in a town I've never visited. Which is bad enough in itself, but it is in Tunbridge Wells, which Google Maps tells me is 309 miles and a journey of five and a half hours away.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Would you buy a used car from this company? What about a website?

I get a lot of these emails, but this one is particularly bad.

To start with; it is illegal to send unsolicited emails. This one is unsolicited, ergo; illegal. Strike 1.

The subject line is not grammatically correct. I’ll go further, it doesn’t make sense – I originally thought it was from someone for whom English wasn’t their first language. Strike 2.

The sender uses a gmail address. For a business email. From a business that has its own domain name? Strike 3, and I haven’t even read the message [in baseball, you’re out after 3 strikes]

In marketing terms the message  is not personalised e.g. the sender has obviously not read the content of the website. Strike 4.

Let’s take a look at the key points raised by the sender:

Are you looking to redesign your website with new modern and as per the latest industry standard look and feel?  There is no ‘latest industry standard look and feel’. Strike 5.

5 important reasons to redesign your website:-

1. Your content management system or website technology is out of date. So is my car – it’s 33 years old but last summer it took me 4000 miles around Italy. Old does not necessarily mean not fit for purpose. Strike 6.

2. Your website design looks old and outdated. That would be a matter of opinion – see (1) above. Strike 7.

3. Your website is not mobile – friendly. Google says it is. Strike 8.

4. You are not getting the results you want. And what results would they be? Strike 9.

5. Your business focus changes. Well … it’s not a commercial website, so it has no business focus. Strike 10.

Note that the name of the seller is not included in the message. Reminder: the subject line included reference to brand. Strike 11.

At the bottom was this legally required message [part of the mailchimp package]

Well, I thought, although I’m very careful maybe I have signed up for something [e.g. a digital marketing newsletter] where the small print said that my email address might be passed to organizations who sell services in that industry … so I clicked on the ‘why did I get this’ link – which should tell me who has passed on my email address. I got this …

Yep ... after the 'you were subscribed because:' message, it should [legally, I think] tell me why I was subscribed. Strike 12.

So I had a look at the website of the anonymous seller – I got the URL from the message above.

I simply cannot be bothered to comment on the whole website – and I’m running out of strikes to give out. 
However, that it timed out while I was surfing [a WordPress issue?] deserves strike number 13.

And no, I checked, nothing to do with my Internet connection. 

However, I did take a look for the marketing manager who sent me the email, and got this …

So, as they provide an address in a public forum, I thought I’d take a look at the location of

… and it is a private house. In itself this is not necessarily a problem. A lot of ‘mom and pop’ type setups operate successfully from a home. But I’m afraid for a web services company, it’s strike 14.

Talking of operating from home – it is perfectly valid for, say, a vintage wedding car hire company. Which is exactly what the 'Quaint and Quirky Motor Company' shown on the map is. And full marks to the owners of that business for making sure it’s on Google’s small business lifting and so appears on any Google map. Note however, that the company offering digital marketing services [for a fee] isn’t. Strike 15.

I gave up at this point.

Footnote: one of the services listed on the Akriga site is social media monitoring.

So when you read this Ade, Ian or Jenifer: Hello … and your copyright notice still says ‘2018’.