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10 Great Websites: FreightCenter.com

September 13, 2010 - 9:18 am EDT
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  • Company: FreightCenter Inc.

    URL: www.freightcenter.com

    Target audience: Small-to-midsize shippers, with some focus on enterprise shippers

    Key Web executive: Doug Walls, VP-marketing and technology

    Number of people who work on the site: 7

    Last major redesign: First quarter 2010

    No. of pages on the site: More than 100

    Web developer: In-house

    How do you take a complicated process—finding and booking the right carrier to ship large, bulky items—and make it intuitive? That's the question that the FreightCenter.com marketing team set out to answer with itsredesign this past winter. "Freight shipping is very hard," said Doug Walls, the company's VP-marketing and technology. "We wanted the site to walk people through it."

    What made this especially challenging, Walls said, was the fact that the person sitting on the other side of the computer screen might be a first-time, one-time shipper or a large enterprise that might be looking to ship many items on an ongoing basis. "We wanted people to be able to come to the site and not feel like they didn't fit into our target audience," he said.

    FreightCenter.com's redesign process started with the aesthetics. The company gave the site a cleaner and more open appearance to replace the "older look and dark background" it had before, Walls said. Then the team moved on to facilitating quotes, the site's main purpose. "Now scheduling a shipment happens on one page and in only four steps," Walls said. "Before, the process was more complicated."

    If users are still confused, they can access a Flash-based how-to video designed specifically for those visitors who might not understand what the company does, Wall said.

    FreightCenter.com also added a tracking tool that helps users get shipment status messages to the home page. "We wanted people to have a better, FedEx-like experience," Walls said. "Before, if they wanted that kindof information they had to call in." There's even a mobile quote page for those users on mobile or handheld devices, he said.

    The redesign is making a big impact, Walls said. The new quoting process is helping FreightCenter.com gain additional leads. "We've seen more than a 100% increase in the amount of online transactions since our siteupdate," he said.

    Expert commentary, Sandy Marsico, principal, Sandstorm Design: FreightCenter.com has identified what is most important to its users. Customers have quick access to key tasks and functionality, including getting a free quote, opening an account, taking a tour, and booking and tracking a shipment. The main navigation is action-oriented around the customer and follows the trend of less is more, with no drop-down menus or heavycontent areas. All transactional forms leverage large type, clear information architecture, in-context help and page overlays to lookup data so users can complete the form efficiently. Our live chat rep was quick to respond, knowledgeable and added to a positive user experience.

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