As I type this in Firefox, my MSIE browser is also open and the sound is turned on. The new Microsoft search engine, MsDewey, is talking to me from that other browser. Every once in awhile, a female voice shouts “Hello! Type something here!” and I hear her impatiently sigh in frustration.

A minute ago, she knocked on my laptop monitor.


Though in Firefox, opened up to WordPress, Ms. Dewey is growing increasingly impatient with me over at IE. She’s just told me that I need to type in something, so she can “Rule the world.” I know if I don’t feed her some keywords, she’s going to rap, rap, rap on my laptop “window” again. (Get it? She taps a Window), and she asks, “Anyone there?”

She also sings.

I could take her annoyed, “Anyone there?”, to mean just about anything, including a possible snipe at the fact that so many of us abandoned Microsoft search engines and became Googlers. Ms Dewey is determined to change that, trust me.

In honor of today, World Usability Day, I thought I’d do the unthinkable and update yet another FLASH plug-in so that I could meet Ms Dewey. I had heard she’s far more fun than “Clippy”.

I’m not sure why Microsoft makes it just about impossible to read the landing page. Squinting and hunting for what a link is and what are practically invisible text instructions, I prep my computer for her grand entrance, by first upgrading FLASH.


As I wait for the FLASH to load, I meet MsDewey for the first time. She’s pretty. Playful. An arched eyebrow and pursed lips signal me she’s in control of my experience. She begins by pausing FLASH from loading the website, flashing a sly “Gotcha!” look, and then permits the thing to continue.


I know my women’s equality bells are already going off, because for starters, she’s sexy, gorgeous and when I first meet her, she’s flirting with an astronaut.


It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where to enter keywords. You do, however, need to do it quickly, or else she’ll make a face or three that makes you feel stupid.

I'm smarter

If you take too long to search, she makes more faces, taps her fingers, shows cleavage and otherwise makes it deadly obvious that you’re so totally wasting her time.


I know *I* look just like this when I’m thinking.


Oh my gawd. I hit refresh to reload the search engine, and now Ms. Dewey has a wrench, and is “working” on a shiny red motorcycle, in her slinky black dress, and talking about being “passionate”. Is it any wonder men want to use this search engine?

Hitting refresh again, she’s got her whip out again (did I mention she has a whip?) and is pushing around army men and tanks on a play battlefield. She asks me to “pay no attention” to what I just saw. As if women don’t normally play with army men…

Hit refresh again, because now I’m insanely curious to know what she does next. This time she’s sharpening a cutting knife and then casually throws it off-screen (at Google, I’m sure), all the time still wearing her slinky low cut black dress and making goo-goo eyes at me. Trust me honey, I’m not your target market.

She shows her feistiness when she yells at Ricardo (some guy you never get to see, btw). By the time she resorts to reading a magazine, furiously flipping pages, I know she’s fed up with me. She reaches for a cell phone, just to give herself something to do. She’s still asking me to “Keep asking questions. The more you ask, the more I know, and soon, I will rule the world!” (Which is necessary if you’re trying to compete with Google.)

It’s become my mission today to totally piss off Ms. Dewey.

hurry up

I catch her taking notes, “for dinner”. She’s still banging on my window and as time goes on, her sighs get louder (or is it my imagination?) She pouts in that, “Please honey, just a little longer”, kind of way. She wiggles and stretches and bends in many ways that suggest she’s hoping a breast doesn’t fall out of her dress.

Finally, after at least 30 minutes of watching MsDewey and not giving her anything productive to do, I get an error message (an add-on is not working?) from MSIE and the browser shuts down.

Essentially, Ms Dewey has just stalked off my laptop in a big huff.

World Usability Day is a day where we consider how things work and how to make them work better. It’s a day for considering everybody and “creating an experience where users can alter their experience as they choose so they can best experience the site” (Source: Joe Dolson)

As much as I get a kick out of this gloriously expressive woman chatting with me as I search, I can’t help but think how much I’d unabashedly enjoy a male hottie up there. And, keep the whip. That was a nice touch.

The Other MS Search Engine

What would World Usability Day without a word from Google Ads? Or, even better, the lack of them? is the old MSN Search, all re-launched with a new name. It’s got a lovely shade of white nothingness on each page, in the places where Yahoo! and Google cram their text ads. Sure, Microsoft can’t get away with this blank space for very long, but just seeing it is a welcome reminder of the good old days when search engines weren’t biased with paid spots.

Now, they’re just sexist.

Happy World Usability Day!

Daryn Kagan is Back!
MsDewey Speaks Her Mind and Dances For My Husband


Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101


American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)