Yesterday I wanted to use my car but couldn’t find my car key. The last I’d seen it, I was handing it to my daughter, two days ago. We have 3 cars, plus the boyfriend’s mini-van (with the broken muffler), and since he practically lives here, that makes 4 vehicles jammed into the driveway. But I wanted mine.

I did the usual. First, I “texted” her in school, so she wouldn’t get into trouble for having a cell phone on her. She had no idea where the key was. Then, I called my husband, who was using my car and his car over the weekend. His OTHER car, the tiny Miata he uses for his commute to work to save on gas, was rear-ended on Friday by a young woman who wasn’t watching the road. Nope. Husband has no idea where my car key is.

Fortunately, I had a spare key and of course, later on in the evening, my daughter found the original key sitting by her computer, which is buried in the world’s scariest Teenager’s Room.

It took all day to solve the missing car key mystery. I stuck with the search because I like my car and like to drive it.

Do you ever hope your web site visitors feel the same way about your web site? Have you driven it around the countryside before offering them the keys to it?

I’ve Come to Drive Your Web Site

I recently visited a web site that was redesigned. It looked professional and attractive. It was ready for visitors, but maybe not me. My goal was to find out where the products were and secondly, how to order them. However, the first big whammo! object on the page was a video of a person talking about a product.

This isn’t a bad thing. But I’m new. I’ve just sat in the homepage car seat. I want to look around, play with the radio, adjust the rear view mirror, figure out where they’ll let me put my coffee mug and by golly, is that a sale item over there?

I don’t want to watch a video yet and their’s takes up a huge chunk of homepage real estate, above the page fold. I’m sure it’s very nice and I’m sorry for scrolling past it. I came with a mission in mind. Did they build a site for me to carry it out?

Farther down the page, I finally discover the Way To Our Products click path. I click the link, which takes me to another page with a search function and after a few tries at getting the right search criteria down, I finally arrive at a product I’m interested in. It’s been 10 minutes, but YES! I’ve made it down their web site driveway.

It’s a good thing I want to drive their web site because after 10 minutes of figuring out where they put everything, I’m thinking I want to drive a sports car.

Navigation for web sites, especially large sites, is never easy to map out. It takes planning and consideration for visitors’ goals. It has to help visitors complete a task. On this particular web site, which was very attractive, they didn’t put a “How to Order” button or link on the product page.

I had no car key. I couldn’t start their web site engine. All I was able to do was play “pretend driver” and imagine I was doing something on their web site, because that’s about all they designed it to let me do.

The moral of this story?

The next time you design a web site, its okay to take it for a joy-ride. You’ve earned that right. But, make sure you throw the keys to other drivers and let them take it on the highway or down the street to Starbucks. These people are your user testing hero’s.

Trust me when I say that many of them crave bumpy roads and purposely love to drive web sites like maniacs, just to see what that baby can do.

Just remember to get your keys back when they’re finished.

Kim Krause Berg Podcast Interview on Web Site Usability
I Never Bought Into Google's Page Rank Score


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)