Usability Testing

So I finally decided to buy a portable MP3 jukebox and settled on the Rio Karma. Off I go to to compare prices. Little did I know that I would be running an impromptu usability test in the process.

Problem #1
On the home page I see that under “Electronics” is the “Audio” category, so I click on that to dive into (what I supposed was) the right category. Imagine my surprise to find no mention of MP3 players. Then I realised that the “Audio” link had taken me to the “Home Audio” category–hence, no portable music players.
So, I click on the “Electronics” link to try again and quickly spot the category “Handheld Electronics”. Great! An MP3 player must fit within that category, right? Wrong. Back I go to “Electronics”. Looking around a bit more this time, I see that in the right hand list of categories is “Personal Audio”–at last I found what I wanted. But, boy did I ever have to be tenacious to get there.
Problem #2
I selected my Rio Karma and opted to compare prices between stores. Noticing a little blurb that told me I could “Enter zip code in orange box to see the total price including tax & shipping”, I searched around the page in vain for the orange box. Well, I could see that the search box was within an orange stripe–could that be it?
By chance I scrolled down the page, and there it was, the little orange box, below the fold of the page! Why this couldn’t have been put at the top of the store listings, I have no idea, as I’m sure I’m not the only person to have encountered this problem.
The moral of the story? Well, if you’re going to link to “Home Audio” you’d better call the link “Home Audio”. And if you’re going to have products which could exist in multiple categories then you should probably list them within the different categories to take into account the ways that users think.
Web site visitors are an impatient bunch and do not tend to browse through all the available options before picking the best one. If you’re anything like me, you see a link and ask yourself “Does that sound about right for what I want?” If the answer’s “Yes”, in you go.
As for not having an important function available above the fold, well, I’m not sure that there’s much else to say there.