Swing batter batter, Swing!

baseball strikeI noticed an ad today announcing an American Express contest where you could vote for one deserving company to win $100,000 in marketing support and grant funding. Reading the description, I decided to click through and vote.

And so began the 12 step process.

In order to vote, American Express asked me to register on their site, creating a username and password. I also needed to provide my email address and birthday.

Strike 1: Don’t ask for more than you need. Email address and name should have been sufficient info. to cast a vote, possibly birth year to verify age, but who is ever honest about that anyway?

Then came the impossible-to-read, case-sensitive CAPTCHA image that I had to verify, with no options for audio.

Strike 2: Invest in a good captcha that keeps the spam-bots away but lets your customers through. This took 3 tries to get right, each time having to go back and also re-enter my new password. And I have good vision.

Once I FINALLY got through the contact form, I was forced to click through 2 additional pages of information about the nominees and program before being allowed to finally place a vote.

Strike 3, You’re Out: Each additional time you ask people to do something on your website, whether it’s clicking through a link, navigating multiple pages, or filling out unnecessary forms, you run the risk of losing them. Make it very simple for your viewers to take the action you want them to take. Landing pages should be simple, calls to action should be prominent, and navigation should be clutter-free and easy to sort through.

Before you lose the whole game in the first inning, ask a few people who are unfamiliar with your site to navigate through it and provide you open and honest feedback. You may be surprised at the results.

– Melissa, Grapevine Consulting

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