Arthur C Clarke said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” And it perfectly describes the relation of Spanish people to the internet in Malaga. It’s MAGIC!
It’s amazing because everyone have cellphones. The children, the parents, the grandparents… literally everyone. And they also have internet, that they use every day. And yet, when it comes to company websites and businesses on the internet, Spain and especially Andalucia is still in the digital stone age.
Now you might think, that it’s a fantastic business opportunity to explore, but in my experience it’s not. Many businesses here don’t have website or their website is so bad, that it would be better if they don’t have anything and yet, they are absolutely not interested in having a nice website. Even if they use the internet every day, they search for products and services all the time, but when it comes to them offering something on the internet, the answer is no thank you, unless you give it for free. Of course, if you give it for free, then they get suspicious, that why are you giving it for free, so they rather don’t want it because it must be some kind of scam and they don’t trust you anyway because you are a guiri.
Let me show you an example of a totally nonsense website, which is typical here. The railroad company in Spain is called: Renfe. They have a nice website. Within their website there is a separate section for the short distance trains, which are called: Cercanias.
Let’s see how easy is to find the information on their website! If I go to the Malaga Cercanias website, I can select that I want to go from the center, for example to Alora. It tells me what time the train goes, arrives, the duration of the trip. But it doesn’t tell me the price of the tickets!
So I have to click on the Billetes y Abonos menu, where I can see that different zones has different prices. I guess you have no idea which zone Alora is, right? So this information is plain useless by itself.
It doesn’t matter how hard you look, you won’t find the zone map here neither a link to the zones, because that is only available from the main page, so you have to click on the Horarion menu for example to get back to the front page, and then on the right side click on the Plano y Zonas link.
Finally you can see the zone map, it opens in a new browser tab. Now you can see that Alora is in the zone 4. So how much was the price to zone 4? Of course, you don’t know, so you have to close the map and on the main page click the Billetes y Abonos again, to find the information: Zone 4 tickets costs 2.7 euros.
As you can see this website lacks of common sense or any kind of user interface and experience consideration. I believe the main reason behind the terrible websites is that people “live on the street” here in Andalucia. I don’t mean they are homeless, but unlike in northern countries where people rather stay inside because of the rain and the cold, people in Malaga are more likely to go out and enjoy the sunshine. That means infinite number of customers wondering around the city that local businesses can monetize. That is why they don’t care if they don’t have a website, they have enough people coming in from the street… at least they think they have, until they go bankrupt and go out of business, which is just as common as having a bad website. Anyway, maybe within 10 years when the internet penetration will be even higher, they might consider using it to market their business, not only for ordering pizza.