I don't get it.

You would think that when a company decides to invest in a website for selling their products online they would optimize for actually selling their goods. Yet so many websites fail at really basic things.

Some time ago I was going to order some hot chili sauce. Lots of it. The first hurdle was just browsing the site. For some reason they had laced the site with so much useless Flash that my browser was consuming insane amounts of CPU and naturally the whole browsing experience was sluggish. But I persisted and slowly populated my shopping cart with a number of products that I thought I'd might like. The site was rather skinny on actual descriptions of the products, so there was no way of really knowing what to expect from the products, but I was in an adventurous mood.

As I was trying to complete my order the whole dance to get past the form validation started. Although they ship their orders abroad, the site insisted on various bits of information being entered and that they follow american conventions for formatting. So I had to make up a phone number, among other things.

I also had to type my name in using only characters available in 7-bit ASCII. It is annoying that in 2008 you still have people who make web shops who can't deal with international character sets. But usually I find a way around this. I am getting quite used to this.

Of course, the last step, validating my credit card information, seemed to crash the code. I just got a screenful of what seems to be a debug-sort-of-dump of a bunch of PHP variables. End of experience. It seemed that my $130 order for various chili products would never get through.

While I was navigating their site I noticed their proud announcement that the next version of the site would be an all Flash version. Oh great.

Why are these people so clueless? Why are they not focusing on actually selling stuff?

Tried to shop for watches lately? Same thing there, only worse. Watchmakers, and makers of fashion items, have supremely clueless websites. It is almost impossible to find anything and even harder to figure out how to buy. Why on earth do they think this promotes sales? It can't. It can only scare people away.

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