How to annoy your website visitors

...with web-based surveys

A classic. Ask the visitor to spend 15 minutes of their time answering questions that lead to their own preferred answer.

If you are going to survey your customers, then it's best to be efficient about it or you will get a high non-completion rate. It's quite something to ask a customer to spend their time on a survey, so try and not to.

Some of the good surveys I've seen are a single page with three questions and the email introducing the survey made that clear in the first lines.

On the other hand, Shell recently sent through a survey after I'd used one of their filling stations. They already knew the type, volume and price of the fuel I bought, that I was a member of their Driver's Club and a few other things. It was intensely annoying to be asked to fill in this questionnaire and I'm unlikely to do so again in spite of the possibility of a £100 reward. A big company should do better.

If you want a survey to be useful, keep it short and don't ask a customer to fill in stuff you already know. In order to achieve, this you may need more sophisticated survey software that can access your databases. making them create an account to buy a single item

When doing a spot of internet shopping for a rear windscreen wiper blade, a specific electric fuse or a vacuum cleaner filter, I get annoyed if I have to create a new account, not least if I’m extremely unlikely to return to the site in the foreseeable future. It's likely that you too have had this kind of pain.

For me, the real friction to completing the transaction is the need to create a unique password and store it securely. This means that about 25% of the time (not a scientific measure) I decide not to continue. From a website owner’s point of view, losing even 10% of business is bad news, so it’s a problem the owner needs to be aware of.

The ways around this for the website owner are to use:

  • some form of guest account that only requires an email address and its confirmation
  • a third-party identity provider like Google, Facebook, Microsoft or Twitter to verify the visitor is who they say they are

Some owners may be concerned at the cost and possible disruption if they have to change shopping systems. In this case they need to ask themselves what they would have to pay in normal advertising for a 10-25% boost in business and how this compares to a website upgrade. Alternatively, look at the 'losses' (maybe 10-25%) incurred by not dealing with the problem. using a PDF on your website instead of a normal page

This annoyance is covered in a separate article because of the number of considerations.