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A story about a busted prop and a usability case study

It was 85 degrees here in Portland, Oregon this last weekend for Cinco de Mayo.

Now, if you’re not from Portland, Oregon that probably doesn’t mean much to you. To put it into perspective… the average high temp in Portland in May is 67 degrees and most likely a bit wet. So this was unusual weather for us to say the least.

Lets take the boat out!

Given the amazing weather we were having, my girlfriend decided she wanted to take her boat out for the day. I agreed, and we loaded up our gear for a day of fun on the Willamette River.

It was a damn near perfect day right up to the point of hitting something beneath the surface of the water. I’m still not exactly sure what we hit, but it was big and it did a number on the prop as you can see in the image above.

Time for a new prop.

So, the next morning I’m out surveying the damage and decide to hop online (using my iPhone) to shop for a new prop while I’m standing right there looking at the model numbers.

I type “Volvo Penta props” into the Google search box, hit search, and I’m given the typical page of results including two ads at the top. The first of the two ads happens to be a company I’ve ordered from in the past so I decide to give them my money.

Propeller AdI click the link (not the “call button” that is conveniently located next to the ad for those people who actually want to call the company), expecting to be taken to their website so I can order the new propeller.  But instead, I’m greeted with a “call now” prompt. I click cancel and think to myself, “Hmm, did I accidentally click the call button? I don’t think so… but I guess maybe I did”. I try clicking again and sure enough, I’m prompted to call the company again.

I don’t want to call the company. I want to order online damnit!

See, the problem here is that whomever setup the Google Adwords campaign for Marine Parts Express either didn’t know that by using the company’s phone number as the title to their ad, newer mobile devices would default to calling the number. OR they purposely set it up that way not realizing that people would be unable to actually click through to their website to shop. I would guess it would be the former. Either way, this was not the experience I was expecting.

So, frustrated with that little interaction… I decide to try the next ad. They claim big savings, and have a ton of reviews equaling a 5 star rating. I click the link. I’m taken right to the prop section of thier website. Guess who got my $175?

The lesson here?

Test EVERYTHING (or hire us to do it for you). Make sure the experience matches the expectation. If not, you’re potentially losing money (remember, they had to pay for those 2 clicks) AND potential customers at the same time.