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Website Improvements: Test Basic Usability Before Advancing

Posted on August 20, 2008 by Zach

On PlumberSurplus.com we sell an awful lot of Delta Faucets and from time to time we need to gather images or research product data to make sure that our information is correct and up to date.  This means that we occasionally have to resort to using the manufacturer's website, if one is available, and that's where this story begins.

My Database Team Leader was telling me about an issue he was having in using the Delta Faucet Company website and I offered my assistance to see if I might be able to help figure out the problem. While using their search, I ran into the same issue he did, a screen full of gibberish with no search results or useful information in sight.

 



While I was unable to help because it was an issue with the Delta website not processing a search properly, I did try to offer some pointers on perhaps getting around this issue.  Before I could finish explaining that Google product search, or finding products by category could be an alternative avenue, I noticed a window pop up.  I assumed it was a standard pop-up either asking me to live chat or displaying some kind of promotion, but the title caught my eye, "Help us improve our website!".  After laughing out-loud and thinking about the irony of getting this survey on a page that was not working, I realized how important basic website usability like navigation and search are to a website.  This is especially true of large websites with hundreds of thousands of pages. I think that is a key point of which all companies with websites, and web based companies should understand: there is no reason to improve your website if the core functionality is not working. If I was a real customer and this happened to me I would probably end up completely frustrated and either fill out the survey in anger or simply leave and never come back.

 

 

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