On getting your website right

I have just moved house and have bundled the utilities and telecommunications through ACTEW. As part of the deal, I am entitled to a Privileges card.

I received the membership card and an introductory letter telling me that “I am minutes away from accessing discounts and special offers at over 500 participating businesses”. I need to activate the card from the Privileges web site.  I go to the specified web site to activate the card.

Note exactly what I am doing. I am going to the web site under instruction to perform a specific task – activate my membership card. I am NOT going to the web site out of any ineluctable desire or to admire the postcard-like pictures from the home page. I just want to activate the card. I am wanting to complete a task.

Now, do you think that the words “activate card” appear prominently on the home page, or even appear at all? Nope. No activate anything. Naturally, I scan the page and look for how I can activate the card. Nothing. There are a number of other options available to me via a horizontal navigation bar and some graphically rich content area in the middle of the home page. I will obviously need to explore further.

My first question to myself is whether or not I am actually a member yet or do I have to activate the card to become a member? I know that I am minutes away from all those benefits so perhaps I am still not a member. I look under the heading “Join Privileges” from the  navigation bar, semi-confident that at least I will get a prompt to go somewhere else to activate. No. I now check under the heading “Members”, perhaps optimistic in my status as an official member of the club.  Thankfully, the first option is to activate my card. I click on the link and now I have to fill out a form. I fill out the form and send it off. I get a screen telling  me my form has been successfully sent. But now what? Am I activated or not? Do I need to wait a certain period of time before activation takes place? There is no additional information so I am left hoping my card is activated and I can race out to do all that bargain hunting.

And yet, after all of this, I am still not sure if I only needed to activate the card to get a newsletter sent to me and whether I could have used the card straight away without all this activation business.

Clear communication on a web site and any introductory letter is of paramount importance – please get it right.

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