Developer Lessons From My Three Worst Online Shopping Experiences
Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 8:34PM
Admin in Online Business

Tonight I had my third worst online shopping experience.  It was a pain but as I considered that it might have been worse, I remembered  two more that definitely ranked higher in the negative sense which prompted me to come up with these seven lessons for Developers that might prove helpful.

So what was so bad tonight? Well, I was trying to catch up on work over the weekend and order a vendor specific development system for a project I'm working on. The vendor's site was pretty professional, I had been studying their offerings for a couple of months, I had just not gotten around to pulling the trigger on a purchase, because I had just been too busy.  So finally on a Saturday night, as I'm checking off my to do list, I try to place the order. Unfortunately the site's checkout system failed me, and instead of simply dying, it inticed me to go through a gauntlet of checkout pages, multiple times, thinking that I only needed to make one more change to be successful.  Maybe some developer/designer of online stores can learn from my frustration.

Lesson 1 - Use one screen rather than three or more to enter the customer's information.

Lesson 2 - If you must use multiple screens, save the customer's data, don't make him enter the same information over and over again for a simple correction.

Lesson 3 - Accept common forms of phone numbers, zip codes and state abbreviations. Do not fail for lack of a dash or worse because one was included. Certainly accept zipcodes like 55555-4444 and not require 555554444. And if you can't pull this off, don't wait for two more pages before you tell the customer that it is a problem. But if you must, see Lesson 2.

Lesson 4 - If a customer goes to the trouble to fill in a shipping address - use it. Don't make him also click a box that says "Ship to my shipping address and not my billing address".  But if you must - See Lesson 2.

Lesson 5 - If (after the 3rd try) there is still something wrong with the information the customer is providing - provide an explanation. Not "try again or use a different credit card".  But if you must - See Lesson 2.

Those were the lesson's from my third worst experience.

Lesson 6 - From my second worst experience - Don't send me my login ID and password in an email "so I can keep it in a safe place". This tells me two things - (1) you have no clue about how to keep my information safe and (2) you did not keep my information safe.  You didn't even bother to hash my password. If you had written my ID and password on a post card and posted it on the bulletin board at the post office fewer people would have had access.

Lesson 7 - From my worst - Don't include my billing address, my shipping address, my credit card number and the card's expiration date on the packing slip - but if you do, don't tell me none of your other customers complained. It makes me worry about why I would select the same company those guys use.


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