Archive for November, 2006

New World View

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Roppongi Nights

The view from the balcony of the apartment we are currently living in.

What is a Professional Web-site?

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

In his most recent post Barbie mentions a programming contest. The thing that interests me is his reaction to the word “professional”. What exactly is a professional web-site? For some people it’s going to be Amazon, Google or Ebay but for others it’s merely going to be a web-site that was paid for. Of course a professional web-site for a small business can be produced in 30 hours with a team of three people. Just think about how much that would cost. If we give a low price to each member of the team – say £35 per hour – that brings the cost of the site to £3,150. Most design companies I’ve worked with charge closer to £50 per hour – giving us a site that costs £4,500. This is nothing if you consider how much it costs to build something like Amazon. But for a small business it’s a lot of money and most of them would not agree to spend that much on a web-site. There are so many companies now claiming that they can build professional web-sites that it is not shocking for someone to pay around £1,000 for one and at prices that low they must be producing them really quickly. I’ve even come across a company claiming that they can build a web-site for a small business for around £250.

The other thing that interests me is that amount of time it would take to reproduce some of the large professional web-sites such as Amazon. It’s much easier to copy than it is to create. Lots of the time involved in building any software system is taken up with requirements, analysis and finding ways to make the interface useable. If you already had all that how long would it really take?

Love Film, Hate Customers

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

I really like using internet based services because I rarely have to talk on the phone to people in call centres. Last night I tried to cancel my subscription for ScreenSelect. Before ScreenSelect became part of LoveFilm it was possible to cancel the service by filling in a form on their web-site. Now, when you go to the cancellation link, you are presented with the following message:

“A member of our Customer Services team is standing by waiting to speak to you they will be able to take you through the rest of the cancellation process as there are a couple of questions we need to ask you.”

So instead of clicking on a button and filling in a cancellation reason on a form I have to ring them. It was after midnight when I wanted to do this and I really couldn’t be bothered so I made a note to cancel the service this morning.

When I rang today I had to wait 6 minutes before anyone was able to take my call. When my call was finally answered the person I was speaking to couldn’t understand me. Mind you I had difficulty understanding them as they asked me if they were talking to Alicia. Once we established that I wasn’t Alicia and they actually bothered to ask me what my name was it took another 4 minutes just to explain my name and address. The only other thing I was asked was “do you have any positive feedback” which is an interesting way of asking why I’m cancelling.

I can understand why businesses don’t think it’s a problem irritating the customers who are trying to leave as they won’t be making any more money from them. But I think it can backfire. I didn’t leave because I didn’t like them; I would have considered using them in the future, until I tried to cancel. And my cancellation isn’t finalised yet. Now I’m going to have to make sure they don’t take any more money and also check that they acknowledge receipt of the disks I’ve sent back. I also won’t be recommending their service to any of my friends.