It’s the holiday season, which also means it is the shopping seasons; in 2012, Forrester Research estimates shoppers are going to drop a budget-busting $226 billion in sales.

No matter whether you sell products, services, or both, is your online storefront ready for the onslaught? Here are 3 bad examples where things have gone wrong – they all happened to me on Black Fiday.

Now You See It… Now You Don’t

I currently have an iPhone 3GS and ready overdue for an upgrade. I’m on T-Mobile with no contract, so I’ve got options. The iPhone 4 is one option, but I’m also looking into all the Android options. T-Mobile emailed me to tell me that they’ve got a sale on, and sure enough, on their home page, that’s the main feature.

When I clicked, I got taken to their generic “deals” page. Nothing told me what was today only. It wasn’t even clear what was web-only and what was in-store.  I ended up not buying anything because I couldn’t tell what was a deal and what wasn’t.  (Their site has a lot more usability problems than this.  Just sayin’.)

Takeaway: If you’re offering seasonal deals, make sure they are easy to find. This may require a temporary menu change or re-tagging of your product/service categories. If you want stuff to sell, don’t hide it!

UPDATE: So today is Monday, and T-Mobile has banners all over the place featuring their Cyber Monday sale. I clicked the ad:

And then I got this.


It’s So Big, You’ll Have to See For Yourself

I was looking on Yelp for activities going on this past weekend here in Portland – since the rain has cleared, I thought it might be nice to get out of the house and walk off some turkey.  I found what is called “America’s Largest Christmas Bazaar,” which certainly got my attention! Before making the commitment to head clear across town and pay a cover charge,  I wanted to get an idea of what these “thousands of handcrafted goods” were.  Tough luck – thre are no photos.

Lots of weird PDF files with advertising text, but NO photos.  None.  Just this lame map of said products might be found (but even this map doesn’t have a key to match numbers to exhibitors).

Even though this sounded great, I ended up buying what I was looking for on eBay, because over there I could get a good look before I bought.

Takeaway: Every website should have photos. Good ones. This should be common sense, but obviously isn’t.

Tech Whoops

Given that I stay on top of my tech gadgets, I can’t believe I’m getting errors like this:

The message is from Timedriver, a popular time scheduling tool for consultants. I’d actually engaged a consultant on some branding work, and clicked on this link from my iPad, and this was the message I got. Really, my iPad – the most popular tablet out there, where people are flipping through catalogs and blogs and all sorts of stuff  spending the moolah – and you’re detecting the wrong browser version? (I am on Safari browser mentioned…)

Takeaway: Test your stuff. Bugs like this are a deal killer.

Need a hand making sure your web presence is flowing smoothly?  It’s time to get critiqued.