December 4, 2021

Bucks Blog: Is the Web Amplifying Consumers’ Voices?

First, Netflix dropped its plan to make customers have separate accounts for mail order and online movies. Now, Bank of America has reversed plans to charge a $5 monthly fee for some customers who use their debit cards to make purchases. Both decisions came after the original plans were sharply criticized by their customers.

Which leaves us at Bucks wondering: Is consumer power newly ascendant? Or was this just a coincidence involving two separate corporate moves, each of which proved so boneheaded that it had no chance of sticking?

Americans have always been able to make their opinions known by talking to each other and by voting with their feet — the Occupy Wall Street movement, with its “us versus them” theme, is a classic example of the take-it-to-the-streets approach.

But it seems that the new social media may have played a big role here, by making it easier for the masses to organize in-person protests and to voice their unfiltered outrage. (I, for one, first learned of the Netflix move when a Facebook friend vented her frustration.) And it also seems unlikely, if not impossible, that a young woman protesting a bank fee would have rated a personal phone call from a high-ranking Bank of America executive had she not first attracted thousands of supporters on an online petition site.

Yet in other cases, consumer sentiment hasn’t seemed to have much impact on unpopular changes–like, for instance, the addition of fees for checked bags by many major airlines.

What do you think? Are new ways of communicating giving consumers more power to change corporate behavior?

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You’re the Boss: What’s Wrong and What’s Right With These Web Sites?

Site Analysis

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the quality of a Web site depends as much on the quality of the design and the effectiveness of the messaging as it does on the amount of money invested in technology and features. That’s why there are lots of major companies that have invested millions in their online business but have Web sites that fail miserably.

On the other hand, I have seen small businesses that really understand online messaging, user interface and visitor behavior. For a relatively modest investment, these companies have built sites that deliver conversions, turning visitors into customers.

Most of the sites we’ve reviewed here on Site Analysis have had issues of messaging, design and marketing. But there are a lot of sites out there that are doing it right, and that’s why we’re going to try something different this week. Instead of reviewing a site volunteered by its owner, I want to compare two sites of companies in the same industry — so we can look at the decisions made by two companies in the same space. The two sites we’ve chosen are and

Web sites are, of course, a huge source of revenue for the major airlines. The ones that do best are the ones that point you to the information you need in an intuitive manner and that make the ticket buying experience as seamless as possible.

Airline sites also generally provide special deals, some travel information and even flight tracking. To give you a quick taste of the sites, I’ve provided screen shots of the respective homepages. But you can also visit the sites yourself. I encourage you to lift the hood and take a look at as many internal pages as you want. And then please tell us what you think of the two sites. Put yourself in the shoes of someone planning a trip and ask yourself:

o Does this site offer the information you were looking for?

o Was it easy to find the information you wanted?

o Did you find the navigation intuitive?

o How was the checkout process (be careful not to go too far!)?

o Were there any features you particularly liked?

o Which feature was your favorite?

o Which was your least favorite?

o What is your impression of the overall message?

o What do you think of the design of the site?

Finally, after looking at both sites, decide which one you prefer and tell me why in your comments. As usual, I will gather my favorite comments and include them in next week’s follow-up.

Got a Web site or mobile app you’d like to have critiqued? We are always looking for sites and apps to review. We are especially interested in hearing from businesses that are using smartphones, iPads and other mobile devices and apps as tools in marketing, selling and branding. To be considered, please send an e-mail to and tell us about your experiences — what works, what doesn’t and especially why you would like to have your site reviewed.

Gabriel Shaoolian is the founder and chief executive of Blue Fountain Media, a Web design, development and marketing company based in New York.

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