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Website Marketing Turnoffs

13 things not to do when adapting your product to an online model.

Here's a compilation of 13 silly and even stupid ways some companies are hindering adoption of their products and services. So if you are doing any of them, don't.

  1. Forcing immediate registration: Requiring a new user to register is a reasonable request-after you've sucked him in. The sites that require registration as the first step are putting a barrier in front of adoption.
  2. The long URL: Say a site generates a URL that's 70 characters long or more. When you copy, paste and e-mail this URL, a line break is added. Then, people can't click on the link or it only links to the first part of the URL.
  3. Windows that don't generate URLs: Have you ever wanted to point people to a page, but the page has no URL? Did the company decide it didn't want referrals, links and additional traffic?
  4. The unsearchable website: Some sites don't offer a search option. If your site goes deeper than one level, it needs a search box.
  5. Sites without Delicious, Digg and Fark bookmarks: There's no reason why a company wouldn't want its fans to bookmark its pages. When my blog hits the front page of Digg, page views typically increase six or seven times.
  6. Limiting contact to e-mail: Don't get me wrong; I live and die by e-mail. But sometimes I want to call or even snail-mail a company. Many companies only let you send an e-mail via their "Contact Us" page. Why can't companies be honest and just call it "Don't Contact Us"?
  7. Lack of feeds and e-mail lists: Make getting information about your products and services easy by providing e-mail and RSS feeds for content and PR newsletters.
  8. Making users retype e-mail addresses: How about the patent-pending, curve-jumping Web 2.0 company that wants you to share content but requires you to retype your friends' e-mail addresses? I have 7,703 e-mail addresses in Microsoft Entourage. I'm not going to retype them into some done-as-an-afterthought address book.
  9. No e-mail addresses as usernames: I'm a member of hundreds of sites. I can't remember my usernames, but I can remember my e-mail address. So why not let me use that?
  10. Case-sensitive usernames and passwords: I know; these are more secure. But then I'm more likely to type in my user name and password incorrectly.
  11. Friction-full commenting: "Moderated comments" is an oxymoron. If your company is trying to be a hip, myth-busting, hypocrisy-outing joint, it should let anyone comment. Also, many times I've started to leave a comment on a blog but stopped when I realized I'd have to register.
  12. Unreadable confirmation codes: A visual confirmation graphic system is a good thing, but many are too difficult to read. All you have to prove is that you're not a robot. So if the code is "ghj1lK," entering "ghj11K" should be good enough.
  13. E-mails without signatures: Communication would be so much easier if everyone included a complete e-mail signature with their name, company, address, phone and e-mail address.

 

Guy Kawasaki is the co-founder of Alltop, a managing director at VC firm Garage Technology Ventures, former chief evangelist for Apple Inc. and author of eight books--most recently The Art of the Start. Visit his company's site, alltop.com.

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This article was originally published in the June 2009 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Website Marketing Turnoffs.

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