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Posted 11 Jul 2013
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Where Is It? Where Brick and Mortar Misses the Mark

, 11 Jul 2013
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Happy visitors make happy customers!
The pervasive nature of the Internet has forced many brick and mortar businesses to respond by providing an online experience to their customers. For any company this is a heavy investment; therefore, small businesses have struggled to provide a web experience to their potential customers. Some contract out the work, find a "techy" friend, while others buy a "how to build a website" book and jump in. Each of these potential options have found success. The Internet created a new economic ecosystem for purchasing goods and services. It has also become the de facto standard for seeking out information. For that reason alone, all businesses have a vested interest in a web presence. Of these small businesses, there are many that require in-person visits. For instance: restaurants, flea markets, convenience stores, spas, repair shops, hair salons, etc. traditionally require some personal interaction. In these situations, the next step is to determine how to visit the business. Unfortunately, this is where it can all go wrong.

How can it go wrong? Most people know how to use mapping websites such as Google/Bing maps or can use the built-in mapping software on their smartphone. Although this is true, it is already one step too far. Getting the actual address is where the frustration can mount. To avoid losing or frustrating potential customers, use the following tips to ease the process:
  • For businesses that require an in-person visit, make the Driving Directions, Location, or Address hyperlink obvious and easy to find. After a potential customer has evaluated a website for relevance, this is the next crucial piece of information that everyone looks for. If the hyperlink is placed in a common navigational area, be sure to make it easy to spot. Do not place it in a hard to find area or in a hidden sub menu. Due to the important nature of this information, feel free to provide a special call out to catch a visitor's eye.
  • Some businesses opt to show the address of the business on every page. This is an excellent idea for brick and mortar businesses, although this can still go awry. Be sure not to place the address inside of a graphic such as a website header. There is no way to copy and paste this address. This requires some type of manual intervention by the user. At this point, the ubiquity of technology is lost. This is an important issue in the growing smartphone market where, due to screen real estate, a user is limited to one app at a time.
  • Websites that have a "Driving Directions" web page should avoid the "From [this location]" or "From [navigational direction]" messaging. This is an antiquated approach to providing directions. Additionally, providing a static map of the business and surrounding area has a limited audience. These ideas were helpful before the days of handheld GPS and mapping websites. This type of web page tells an interesting story about the technical prowess of a business. A directions web page should provide a well defined address along with other electronic driving options. These can include an integrated interactive map or sending the user to a mapping website with the address pre-filled.
  • It's also a great idea to create a combination "Location & Hours" web page for potential customers. Once a customer has found the address, the next line of questioning will surround the hours of operation. Providing this information all at once helps to reduce the burden on a user. Additionally, provide a separate line for each day of the week along with the hours of availability for that day. Avoid confusing statements such as "Open every day from 8am - 5pm, except on Tuesdays and Wednesdays." This creates unnecessary cognitive load for potential customers.

Remember, happy visitors make happy customers!

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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