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15. "Call a Spade a Spade"

Customers often feel that a site overpromises and underdelivers. In some ways this is almost unavoidable given that we can't always do everything customers want online. However, we would manage customer expectations, and stave off disappointment, much better if we called a spade "a spade"; i.e., called things exactly what they are.

"Too clever" is what many customers would call fancy, and often misleading, labeling on a Web site. "Just tell me what it is," they would say, "straight up." In addition, there are a lot of labels that have taken on a certain meaning in the Web world. Many sites use these terms and deliver something that is a far cry from what has come to be expected, and incur customer criticism as a result. Some examples of customer criticism follow:

  • Home-"Don't call it home unless it is."

  • Site map-"Is it a map or just a basic list of links that doesn't help direct me"

  • Search-"Is it actually a way of searching relevant information or just a rudimentary index."

  • Contact-"So, give me the contacts then!"

  • Buy now-"This doesn't mean register interest, or see if you qualify, or anything else, it means buy now!"

  • Help-"Don't give me vague information on irrelevant stuff; I need to know how to solve my problem."

  • Feedback-"I don't think you actually want it."

  • Special deals-"Doesn't look like much of a deal for a customer who's especially come to your Web site to find it."

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