I’ve seen some stupid decisions. And I’m not talking those online text formatting mistakes I see every day. I mean, something big. There’s one recent decision I witnessed that one made me physically stand up and declare ‘this is the stupidest decision I’ve seen all year’. Perhaps it was a bit melodramatic. But I think it was on the money. In the deepening webby world, your website address is your key physical online asset. It’s where people go to check you out, to interact with you and to link to you (Yay Google Juice).
Anyway – here’s the stupid decision in all its detail:
I’m a member of a financial institution that’s been around for probably about 30 years. Let’s call it Dcredit. It’s been known as the same brand throughout all of those 30 years. So there’s a lot of history. And there’s a heap of members spread around the country. About 12 months ago it decided to rebrand – as in – change its name to Dbank. I actually agreed with the rationale and supported the change. So all is going well so far.
A word to the wise ain’t necessary – it’s the stupid ones that need the advice – Bill Cosby
It’s important to note that the existing company domain name and website were one in the same – Dcredit.com. Given the rebrand, the primary website address needed to change from Dcredit.com to Dbank.com. That’s fine. It needs to be carefully managed, but it’s fine.
So anyway, after changing the brand the company moves all its content to Dbank.com and everything is functioning fine. They then make a class A dimwit decision – they just turn off the previous domain name Dcredit.com. No redirect, no message. No nothing. If you typed the old website name into the browser you will be met with a ‘not found’ error. What the?
That’s what made me stand up and exhale, exclaiming that this was the stupidest decision I’ve seen all year.
Why Was it a Stupid Decision?
- Existing customer lag: You’ve got a brand that’s been around for 30 years. That means that the company has people on its books that are used to referring to it as ‘Dcredit’. This behaviour doesn’t change overnight, or in a few months. It can in fact take years for people to start to call a rebranded brand by its new name. Think about it – how many older people refer to the radio as ‘the wireless’. Or when sports stadiums change names – people still call them by the old name. Even my Dad calls the TV channel ‘SBS’, ‘028’ – and it hasn’t been 028 since the 1980’s!
- Existing customer visits: We’re creatures of habit. If we’ve typed in a business’ domain name dozens of times, it becomes a learned behaviour that’s engrained into our muscle memory. We automatically type the url without thinking. By failing to redirect or manage this behaviour, the customer experience significantly suffers. Members may wonder if the business has gone bust (and taken their money), or if there’s a problem with their computer. It’s only after they conduct an online search of Dcredit that they learn that the website address has changed. Ouchies. That customer experience sucks big time.And what’s more, Dbank aren’t even measuring how many hits are pinging to Dcredit, so they can’t understand the extent of the issue.
- Google Juice: Given the business has been online for about 10 years, there would be plenty of third party links that direct to Dcredit.com. Because this site has been shut down, the new site Dbank.com doesn’t benefit from any of this Google juice. A simple permanent redirect would pass this benefit on.
…But it doesn’t end there.
I like to think that I’m a helpful kind of fellow. So I contacted Dbank and let them know that they really should add a redirect from their previous website, for the reasons outlined. They gave me a stock standard response of ‘passing it to the appropriate department’. Thankfully, they came to their senses and implemented a redirect over the next day or so.
I rejoiced. I applauded. Rather than send them an invoice, I celebrated with a slice of rhubarb pie.
The redirect lasted for five days. Then guess what?
They took the redirect down. I’m not sure why. It had me stumped again. Don’t make the same mistake if you are faced with the same situation. Always include a redirect from your previous website to your new website.
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Unsurprising really. I’ve worked with a number of larger organisations, and one thing is always shockingly true. For the amount of money they spend on business analysts, engineers, and architects; very few employ people with common sense
They look at all the technical issues, impacts etc that go with “moving” the site and the new site itself – but because everyone has their little task; big things like “the existing space” seem to get lost.
I would be embarrassed and probably fire myself if I made a mistake like this.
I’m just staggered that they took the redirect down after putting it up. I can’t think of one good reason to do this. But hey, it’s their website, their customer base and their call. I wonder if they are going to get any other feedback from customers about it.