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January 20, 2018

Small Business Advice

Quality Control Is So Important for Your Website!

Jerry Osteryoung | 1/23/2017

"Technology is very seductive, and it is certainly changing the way things are designed and made and taught. The problem is when technology has seduced you away from thinking about things as deeply as you should."

~ Arthur Ganson

Quality control issues have been around for so many years. In fact, I took a course in it when I was at Georgia Tech getting my industrial engineering degree 50 years ago.

At that time, quality control was production-driven. We dealt with measuring the failure rate in the production process and then doing everything we could to reduce that rate.

Today, I think quality control needs to go beyond production processes. Websites, for example, should be subject to quality control, but most are not.

For many companies, websites have become the primary way of transacting business. For this reason, it is absolutely critical that websites be designed and formatted in a way that is easy for the customer to use.

Just a couple days ago, I went online to apply for a new credit card. After spending about 15 minutes on the first institution’s website, I gave up and went on to the next institution, where it took less than two minutes to complete the application and less than five to get approved. Where the first site made me type the same information three times and answer some ridiculous questions, the second site made it much simpler.

When I shared my experience with the CEO at the first institution, he said he thought it was fine since he had not received any complaints. I asked him how many people gave up without finishing the application, and he just did not know.

Of course, this column is not about credit cards or application processes. Rather, it is about ensuring you have adequate quality control on your website.

As the first credit card provider in my example shows, just having a presence online is not enough. Websites should follow the “KISS” principle – Keep It Super Simple – and testing is the way to ensure yours earns a high score.

So often I hear entrepreneurs say how proud they are of their new website designs. But when I ask them if they have actually tried to use their websites to purchase something, they normally say they have not.

Every page of every website must be tested (or quality evaluated) from the customer’s point of view, and if it is not simple, it must be made so. Just look at Rocket Mortgage. That site makes it incredibly easy to apply for a mortgage, and because of this, Rocket Mortgage has captured a large share of the national mortgage market.

My number one suggestion for evaluating the quality of your website is to have prospective customers use the site and compare it with that of your competitors. Have them run through both sites then tell you what they like and do not like about yours.

Another thing I have seen folks do is try making a purchase or completing a transaction with unusual information so they can see how their site responds. You may be very surprised at your results.

Now go out and make sure you have a mechanism in place to evaluate the quality of your website.

You can do this!

Dr. Osteryoung has directly has assisted over 3,000 firms. He is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship (Emeritus) and Professor of Finance (Emeritus) at Florida State University. He was the founding Executive Director of The Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. His newest book co-authored with Tim O'Brien, "If You Have Employees, You Really Need This Book," is a bestseller on Amazon.com. He can be reached by e-mail at jerry.osteryoung@gmail.com.

 

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