Don't be Kohl's
What if your website was like Kohl's?
What if it (probably) had what you went there looking for, at a reasonable price, but the entire experience from start to finish was miserable?
At Kohl's, stuff is hard to find. Whatever it is that you want is invariably buried, hidden, and mislabeled, often mixed in amongst an enormous mound of stuff you don't want.
If you find something you want but have a question, there is never anyone to ask, no way to see if it comes in a smaller size or a different color.
The entire design is frustrating. You have to hunt for what you want, because the clothing is organized by supplier, not by product type - aka not with the consumer in mind.
The store is inevitably dirty, messy, tired, and worn, which is how you feel moments after arriving. The carpet is shoddy, the lighting is flickering fluorescent, and the music seems to have been selected with the sole purpose of driving you to leave. Really, everything about the store seems designed with the sole purpose of driving you to leave.
Even leaving is hard though. The checkout process is always lengthy, with several unmanned registers taunting you while you wait in a line seven customers deep and one cashier taking her time. When it's finally your turn, you are always forced to have the conversation about opening a credit card in order to save whatever percent.
I buy a lot of things at Kohl's for me and my kids, but I hate the store. I hate the shopping experience. I endure it as infrequently as possible. I never recommend it to anyone. The only reason I shop here is because they sell reasonably priced clothes that aren't hideous and last longer than those from Target.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because I often find myself on websites that seem to have been designed by the same people who design for Kohl's.
You've been to sites like this, sites where:
- it's hard to find what you're looking for because there is no discernible organizational structure or useful search feature
- you have questions and there's no way to contact the site
- the entire design is just ugly, or tired, or old-fashioned
- buying something is painful, so much so that you sometimes decide to leave before actually purchasing
Kohl's is never going to be a pleasant shopping experience. It can't afford to upgrade its stores or its staff. It's only competing on price.
But there's no reason websites can't all be a 5-star experience for the consumer. Your website has an enormous advantage over a brick and mortar store. You can have the nice carpet, the always organized stock, and a friendly and easy purchase process.
And it can always be that way. And it won't cost you any (or much) more to make a nice website.
So why do people insist on making the Kohl's of websites?
In 2019, it's just not that hard to make a beautiful and functional website. You no longer need to code or have magical computer powers to do website design. You just have to decide that your customers are worth a small upfront investment of time and a wee bit of money. You have to decide to make your website a marriage of form and function.
Do it right or don't don't at all. Don't be Kohl's.