Posts Tagged ‘Web’

I recieved this drawing yesterday from one of my friend a perfect example of Business Application User Interface Design and Complexities and one topic I love to comment on always ..

Striving for Simplicity

 

Though most applications provide flexibility and simplicity simultaneously; a feat that’s difficult and often expensive to accomplish because it fights the natural tendency towards complexity. Ultimately this will be the combination which is the holy grail of every UI design…

When we perfrom multiple usability/system analysis on various business applications we end up writing multiple reports which should probably include the diagram shown above . It defnitely crystallizes the reason why multiple applications we use gets a bad rap they are often more complex to use, even if it quantifies the business purpose and also significantly more difficult to train them on than many other commercial applications. Applications aren’t exactly the same as as Ipod and search engines but we can certainly learn from mimimal and applicable UI’s we ease the burden on our users in many perspectives which we can adopt in every application we develop irrespective of domains…

It is hard for some people to believe that their users do not want to see everything at one time and that they do not know everything they know, which would be required to navigate the really really complex applications built, now I wonder why some applications gain priority than other with these simple thoughts on UI even though both achieve the same business purpose for what they were built for…

UK-based broadband provider Supanet conducted a survey of its web hosting customers. Supanet wanted to find out the qualities that customers consider to be the most important when shopping for a web host. If you want to gain more customers and improve your relationship with the ones you have, this is one top ten list that’s worth a look.

Unfortunately, while the company gave a top ten list, it didn’t go into any detailed explanations of why customers said these were the ten most important factors in their decision to choose a particular web host. It also didn’t state how many people were surveyed, or explain their survey criteria or methodology. Even a search of the company web site did not turn up more than the press release. So this survey can’t exactly be described as scientific.

On the other hand, the results make a certain amount of sense, intuitively speaking. “It came as no surprise to find that customers looking for a good web hosting service are after value for money,” noted Andrew Barton, marketing manager for Supanet. He’s referring to the number one item on the survey’s list. While I certainly can’t conjure information that isn’t there, I have been researching the web hosting industry for close to two years now. My first article on the subject appeared in June 2005, and regular visitors to this site can attest that I’ve hardly been idle since. I’ve heard my share of horror stories, and I think I can at least make some educated guesses as to why customers look for the qualities in a web hosting company that Supanet’s survey says they do. So without further ado, let me present the list with my comments.

As I mentioned, the number one item on Supanet’s list was “value for money.” If someone has put together a web site as a hobby, it’s probably not going to be something on which they can spend a lot of money. Web sites that are labors of love involve the owner investing time rather than money, so whatever money goes into the site had better stretch as far as possible.

This is doubly true if the web site is home to a business. While there may be some money coming in, and the company may be willing to invest some of that in its web presence in the hope of bringing in more money, no business can afford to waste money. The bursting of the dot-com bubble near the turn of the millennium proved that point. So if you want an individual or a company to trust their site to you, you have to show them that they’re getting their money’s worth.

The second quality on Supanet’s list is “great customer service.” To some extent, this follows naturally from the first item. Every customer considers himself to be the center of his own universe. That’s not something to struggle against; it’s simply a fact of human nature. Add to this the fact that most of your customers, if you’re a web host, have their own customers to worry about, and you understand why customer service is such a high priority.

Great customer service means courteous, knowledgeable representatives who are available whenever your customers need them. It means giving customers what they want as quickly as possible; it can even mean anticipating their needs. Support that’s available 24/7 in several forms (email, chat, telephone) is a good start. If your customers aren’t particularly tech savvy, you might even have to do some spoon feeding.

The third item on Supanet’s list is “multiple hosting features.” Customers appreciate the ability to choose. If you try to lock them in to one package or don’t offer features they need (such as script hosting), they will look elsewhere. Indeed, the number of features a web host can provide has become a point of competition between hosts. For example, 1stchoicehost says that it offers its customers standard or web-based email, shopping carts for e-commerce, support for multiple versions of Microsoft Front Page, the MySQL database, server side includes (SSI), email forwarding, Perl, Java, autoresponders and much more. You might consider surveying your own customers to find out what hosting features they want. If you’re really brave, ask the ones who are switching from you to a different web host why they’re leaving. If they talk about hosting features that you don’t offer, you might want to see what it would take to revamp your services.

The fourth item on Supanet’s list reflects back to the second item, great customer service; it’s “responsive support.” If your customer has to leave five trouble tickets with you just to get some kind of reaction, the last one is likely to include a comment about changing web hosts. Even if you can’t get to a particular item right away, you need to send a message to your customer that you have received their ticket and will look at their problem as soon as possible. Give them a short, reasonable time period as to when they can expect to hear back from you about it – and treat that as an ironclad promise. Remember, if the issue they’re bringing to your attention is affecting their ability to serve their own customers, they’re likely to be very short on patience. If your customer sees that you’re working on the problem, and giving it a priority, they’ll be reassured. The only way they can see that is if you keep them in the loop as to what is happening.

Surprisingly, it’s only when we get to the fifth item on Supanet’s list that we come across “generous web space and bandwidth.” One would think that this would be more important than it is. Perhaps web hosting customers have figured out that web space and bandwidth is cheap (or else there wouldn’t be so many free web hosts). When a particular commodity is cheap in comparison to other things, people often value it less. Still, that’s fairly high on the list, so there is some concern about this.

Customers who have used web hosts for a while know about overselling, which may explain one of the reasons this item made the list. Also, as a web host, it’s a good idea to be honest with your customers about their web space and bandwidth needs as you understand them – don’t sell them more space than they need, but don’t sell them less either. For example, the needs of an ecommerce site will be different from the needs of a primarily content-based site, and even among content sites, a text-based site will have needs that are different from a podcaster’s site. Naturally, site traffic also plays a role.

The sixth item on Supanet’s list is “web site security.” I’d be more surprised that this didn’t rate higher if it wasn’t for the nature of the qualities that rated above it. If a hacker breaks into one of your customers’ web sites, it can be a worse problem than if a thief breaks into a brick-and-mortar store. A hacker can do more than steal merchandise; he can vandalize the site, steal credit card and other information to commit identity theft, set up malicious scripts to download spyware onto the computers of web surfers who visit the site, use the site as a base from which to send spam…the list goes on. It could damage or destroy someone’s livelihood. Don’t let this happen to your customers; take web site security seriously.

Supanet says that being a “reliable hosting company” achieved the number seven spot on the list of items that are looked for by customers. This is a quality that is made up of other characteristics. Customer service is one; doing what you say you’re going to do is another. Also, since many web hosting customers know that the field is huge and crowded with fly-by-night operations, they want to know that you’re going to be around for a while. The best way to convince new customers that you’re reliable is by giving great service to the customers you have; time will do the rest.

The eighth item on Supanet’s list is “up-time reliability.” If you’re hosting ecommerce companies, their ability to serve their customers is directly related to your ability to serve YOUR customers. Your customers need to know that their web sites will be up all the time, that they won’t go offline unexpectedly, and that whatever glitches do come up at your end will be fixed quickly and efficiently. If you as a web host suffer a crash or otherwise let your customers go offline unexpectedly, then visitors cannot access your customers’ web sites (to say nothing of site owners’ inability to access their own sites!). A web site that can’t be accessed is worst than a “closed” sign on a brick-and-mortar store. If a web surfer tries to find a site and it’s not online, they may never try again. At least with a brick-and-mortar business, a potential customer may try the store again if it has hours posted as to when it is open.

The ninth item on Supanet’s list is “easy and fast access to your data.” This may be more important to content-based sites than ecommerce sites. Either way, customers see their web site’s content as their data; why shouldn’t they have a right to access it any time they want to? It has to be easy because not everyone who owns a web site is tech savvy these days, and there are few things as frustrating as technical barriers to what should be a simple process. Also, from a search engine optimization perspective, putting fresh content on your site on a regular basis encourages the search engines to index your site more frequently, which can help a site’s standing on the search engine results pages. To companies who receive a lot of visitors by way of the search engines, this is very important.

The tenth item on Supanet’s list is a “wide range of hosting packages.” This is reminiscent of item three, multiple hosting features. Customers want to know not only that you have packages that suit their current needs, but that you have ones that will suit their future needs as well. This way, it will be quite some time before they outgrow what you have to offer.

If you can provide your customers with all of the ten items that Supanet’s survey indicates are important, you will be in a good position to grow your business and build a reputation as an outstanding web hosting company. Hope this helps all the diving into web hosting..