Contrary to what some may believe, the Web is not an anything goes environment. The reality is that considerations and courtesies need to be implemented by all users so that everyone can have a more enjoyable or productive experience.
Yes, Website Etiquette Exists!
When it comes to Websites, Website owners and visitors alike seem to over look the human factor. Yes, there are living breathing humans on both sides of the screen. If both sides were to understand the basics, and the following checklist covers just the basics, Website owners will produce more ROI, while Website visitors will find their inquiries are responded to more accurately and concisely.
Basic Etiquette for Website Owners:
- Minimize the intrusive pop-ups, ads and that latest whiz-bang script. Having too many advertisements on your site that take forever to load or block content aren’t going to get clicked on. Take our word for it we’ll be gone by then. If you want us to buy your products or services, remove the distractions. We don’t care about all that annoying stuff — we just want to find what we are looking for.
- Have consistent, intuitive navigation in the same place on every page throughout your site. Make sure you also offer a “Home” option in your navigation so we can get to the start of your site if we so choose. Don’t use buzzwords or make us wonder what is where; we should be able to tell at a glance and be where we want in no more than two clicks. Two. Clicks.
- Make a point of having all your company’s contact information easily found on your site. If not on every page in the lower footer area, at the very least on your Contact page. Don’t have a “contact page”? No address or phone number? (What are you trying to hide?) No business from us!
- Please be clear and concise about your policies so that we know what to expect if we choose to do business with you. Have your policies posted on your site where we can easily find them for review. Having a FAQ page can help you provide the info site visitors are looking for.
- At the very least make an effort to respond quickly and in detail to our inquiries. Don’t send us canned or generic responses that really do not address our specific question. That’s where automation can make you look bad. The more detailed and promptly you respond, the more likely we will do business with you.
- When you receive an e-mail about a broken link, a typo or functionality that isn’t working right, do your best to correct it at your earliest convenience. Thank the site visitor who brought the issue to your attention with a personal e-mail. Keep in mind that regardless of their motives in pointing out your errors to you, (some are kind and understanding while others will be condescending and terse) they just helped to make your site better.
Basic Etiquette for Website Visitors:
- Take the time to review the website to ensure its focus will in fact cover what you are seeking. Sites cannot be everything to everyone and most are not. Don’t e-mail an apple site about where to find the best oranges! Review the site’s FAQ before e-mailing to make sure you are in the right place.
- Take the time to read the offered material on the site before e-mailing asking questions that with little effort the answers could have been found. With all information provided literally at your fingertips, take the time to read it before you take the site owner’s time asking them to repeat what is already on their site. This includes reading the privacy statements and/or order policies before you engage in doing business with them.
- When e-mailing a website, make an effort to type clearly and concisely about what you would like to know. All caps or all lower case, poor grammar and typos makes your inquiries appear less credible. Understand most site owners are extremely busy answering genuine customer e-mails to build their business. E-mails that appear to be from a sixth grader are those less likely to receive serious consideration for a response.
- To use a website’s functionality, read the help files and tutorials that are provided to assist you before you e-mail for support simply because you don’t want to make the effort to read and learn. Certainly if after making a sincere effort you still have questions, e-mailing asking for help in a kind and courteous manner will ensure our response.
- When utilizing a website’s live online chat, be as courteous as you would if you were face-to-face with the support agent. These folks are there to help you. Here again, type using proper sentence structure, grammar and spelling so your request is understood. Then, once your session is completed, be sure to thank the operator for their time and assistance before just clicking off and going on your way. That always makes their day!
- If you find an error on a site, don’t point their errors out in public comments or message boards. When something isn’t right or link isn’t working as it should, e-mail the site owner in a kind helpful manner. Provide as much information as you can about what you perceive is wrong in such a way that indicates you want to help the site owner make their site the best it can be. Don’t be judgmental or condescending because the human being on the other side of the screen has made an error. Remember, how you approach those you don’t know about their shortcomings speaks volumes about the kind of person you are.
All too often both website owners and visitors think too much about themselves and what they want rather than to give thought to the other side. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were reversed?