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User Experience and Search Engines: If Your Home Page Could Only Talk

Dear web site visitor.

I can't tell you how glad I am that you found my website. You have no idea the great lengths we've gone to get you here, let alone what we're about to do to keep you on this web site.

First, let me say, I have no idea who you are, or why you came, but believe me when I say, I built my site just for you. My company and products are the best there is to offer. You can find everything you need to know about me in my About Us page (it says "us", but there is only me, really. It's all about impressions you know?). I removed my address because Google Autolink will give you a map to my place and, like I said earlier, I have no idea who you are.

Contacting me is easy. Just fill out the form when you find it. When you find the privacy policy, please take an hour to read that. Basically it says I don't have time to record your data and don't care who you are. I'm only interested in selling you something that has my company name on it.

Speaking of which, did you find my site in search engines by using my company name? Being new to the web, I figured I had to do some things to grab your attention. I'm so sorry the "blinds" you searched for led you to my sunglasses page. While you're here, can I interest you in my e-book about ostrich feather arrangements?

The product catalog is to the left of that big fat image on the right of the homepage that's distracting you. Above the two global navigation schemes in the top header is your login area. To register, you need to first give me your phone number so I can call you at 3am and tell you about my specials. I put the search box at the bottom of the page, so you can find things quickly. The sitemap needs to be updated, sorry. We put it there for search engines to crawl and then forgot we had it. Since we're not sure how you like to find our products, we figured we'd put a link to what we think are the most popular items in the left navigation. Unfortunately there's an endless need to scroll. We couldn't decide what you're favorites are, so we put everything there, just to be safe.

A word to those who use screen readers. We heard that getting to the top of search engines is a nightmare and were advised to put in hidden keywords in the text, behind images, and repeat our keywords in the content. I wouldn't advise turning on your screen reader, as it will say a lot of words over and over again and drive you crazy. We're sorry for the inconvenience and the loss of your sale. But, we were guaranteed the number one spot by that SEO Company, and by golly, you found us didn't you!

We know you want to know everything about our products and that you use different browsers. We know you like to control your experience and totally understand your right to do so. Therefore, we made a popup window for each product that allows you to zoom in, enlarge or shrink the image, rotate the product and imagine it on your girlfriend's body. For the convenience of those with their pop up windows turned off, please use the link that says "Relax, this is not a popup window" so you may view and rotate to your heart's content in a new window.

For those who hate new windows, we offer a FLASH demo, but you'll need the plug in. For those who hate plug ins, we put in a link to one static, basic product picture, with the "Add to cart" button next to it, because, dear one, you cause us the least amount of hassle and we really appreciate that.

Some of our pages may look weird. This is because they're separate landing pages. We removed the template and navigation you're used to seeing on every page and replaced it with a story about our trip to Manchu Picchu, with a link to our homepage, and catalog. We know it's strange but the conversions people told us to have landing pages. And besides, you should have seen it when we had 350,000 doorway pages to the site.

We get lots of requests for links to our site. If you came to us because you wanted our PR score to make yours look good, we're just so tickled about this. We worked quite hard for our PR 3 and are more than happy to sell, or lease, a link to you for 300 US dollars paid in advance via PayPal.

While you're here, we invite you to visit our links pages. We know the sites we thoughtfully linked to have a lot to do with the subject of our site, and the ones that aren't, well; they sent us such sweet emails about how they visited our site and loved it. How could we possibly resist such a nice gesture like that?

Our products are great, like I said earlier. If you want to see if I'm telling the truth, just read the many testimonials we provided throughout the site. You know, the ones with the comment and the handy unlinked, unidentifiable initials next to them. We value your trust.

Please note that we prefer you ignore the broken links and the copyright year of 2001 in our footer. We haven't bothered to maintain our site in years, but we hated like hell to lose our great rank.

The newsletter signup isn't really an underhanded way to spam you later. We're just not skilled enough to put up an example copy or archives of the older ones we sent out a few years ago.

Like I said, I don't know who you are or what you want, so I decided to put all kinds of fun things up on my site. The web ring, guestbook, links directory to links pages that lead to links pages, email to friend, Google Ads, banner ads, animated spinning things, RSS feed, blog, directions to my cousin's house (he doesn't mind surprise visitors), picture of my dog (I link to that from my profile on the dating sites I belong to), vacation pics and logos I had to put on my site so that people wouldn't remove my site from theirs ? all this is hopefully something you might like.

I know I do.

Thanks again for visiting my web site. It's fun to watch my traffic stats to see where you came in from and where you left. I'll even give you a hint about one thing, just to show how customer oriented I am. Don't bother to buy anything. The shopping cart stopped functioning months ago.

Usability Consultant, Kimberly Krause Berg, is the owner of http://www.UsabilityEffect.com, http://www.Cre8pc.com & http://www.Cre8asiteForums.com Her background in organic search engine optimization, combined with web site usability consulting, offers unique insight into web site development.


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