Sue's black lab

Sue’s black lab on his 6th birthday.

This is a story about web site usability, but it starts with communications with a personal touch.

In his networking sessions called Breaking Down Silos, speaker Dave Howlett advises sending personal thank you cards and making a connection with people by sharing something personal about yourself. For example, Dave is a marathon runner, Toastmaster and former scuba instructor.

People who know me know about Jake, a black Labrador Retriever who is a big part of my life. Jake makes sure my day starts with a brisk walk, no matter how bad the weather, and that I get out of my home office at midday, great for clearing the mind. So when I saw that Shoppers Drug Mart’s Easypix web site (perhaps not surprisingly, no longer around) offers the chance to create note cards using your own photos, I thought of using Jake’s photo to make personal thank you cards.

It’s a terrific idea, and I was able to make some great cards. Unfortunately, it took way too much effort to order them.

Thinking it might be a browser issue, I tried three different ones before abandoning ship that day. The third attempt got me as far as the “review” stage where it just did not respond. “Shoppers support” replied to my plea for help that, on a Mac, “Easypixonline is only compatible with Firefox.” Doesn’t that seem like a useful thing to mention on the site somewhere?

Later, I found out another important instruction was missing. Even if you don’t want to include any text on your card, you can’t just skip to the end; you have to go to the text page. Again, specific instruction would be nice!

To make a long story short, I finally did get my happy Lab cards, but I can’t imagine how many potential customers Easypix has turned off. My advice to the company is to first spell it out, but then make sure you TEST your site with real people!