Monday, August 27, 2007

How Far Will You Click For A Cheaper Taco?

As I attempt to continue ramping up my new media skillz, I've been reading a book called Don't Make Me Think by Web usability guru Steve Krug. Before the phrase web usability makes you lose total interest in this post, let me assure you that the book is far from boring. Krug is a good writer and the easy-to-read book talks a bit about the psychology of Internet users and how they are motivated to make choices when they view a Web site. It's fascinating! Read Chapter 2 and you'll see what I mean.

The book has forced me to think about the normally unacknowledged decisions I make whenever I surf the Internet, such as where I click on a site, how I find what I'm looking for and how quickly I give up and try something else. The knowledge in the book is extremely timely, as I think there are many Web sites out there today that prioritize Flashy content over ease of use. A recent example (and by recent, I mean last night):

My family was craving Taco Bell for dinner (cheap greasy slop, but I can't get enough!) and a phone call to the local store told us that there were coupons on the Taco Bell Web site that would make the cheap greasy slop even cheaper (alas, no less greasy). When you go to Taco Bell's Web site, however, you are greeted by ridiculously Flashy and utterly confusing hot sauce packet navigation. "Click A Sauce Packet and Let the Fun Begin!" the site goads. All I want to find are some coupons, but there is not a link in site that appears to satisfy that need. In a fit of confusion, I click on the sauce packet labeled "A Little Help Please?" Unfortunately, that takes me to another Flash-based "Dress the Sauce Packet" activity. I hesitate to call it a game, because I'm not sure who would derive fun from putting a Hawaiian shirt on a Taco Bell hot sauce packet. People looking for coupons certainly don't.

I continued to methodically click around the sauce packets and found myself in the backseat of a Flash-powered cab. While the effect was cool, the cabbie couldn't drive me to Coupon Town, so I quickly went back to the Taco Bell home page. My odyssey continued for a few more minutes and a few more useless clicks. None of the navigation along the top of the page led me anywhere useful, but at least there is a custom music player on the site, so I can enjoy a nice "lounge mix" while I fail to find what I'm looking for.

Ultimately, I gave up and did what I should have done in the first place--kneeled before the altar of Google and asked for "Taco Bell Coupons." Apparently Taco Bell has another site for coupons called My Local Taco Bell, but there is seemingly no link to this from any hot sauce packet or navigation bar on the main Taco Bell site. I guess they just really want you to pay full price.

At the end of the day, I used my coupons, stuffed myself on cheap(er) tacos and vowed to adhere to every single word of Krug's book in any future Web designing that I am a part of. I also vowed that, Hawaiian shirts or not, there will be no sauce packets on my site.


Kelly Mahoney said...

I enjoy your nerdiness, especially when it includes Taco Bell. I'll have to investigate this coupon thing.

Anna said...

Oh come on, a Hawaiian shirt makes everything better!

ericaislands said...

"kneeled to the altar of Google", I'm sure FK would love that description.