Searching The Interwebs

Interesting experience on the telephone yesterday.  Cindy (not her real name) works for a company that provides a service to my business.  I’ve met Cindy.  She is a perfectly lovely, perfectly average person of reasonable intelligence.

I needed a piece of information which Cindy told me was available on her company’s website.  “Just go to “company x” and click on “select your association.”, she told me.  I typed in “company x”.com and the homepage loaded just as one would expect.  Then the trouble started.

The problem was, there was no “select your association” option on the page.  I saw the company logo, a navigation bar, and a picture of all the smiling employees of “company x”.  None of the drop down menus had what I as looking for, Cindy at one point told me there was no picture of the employees on the page (that I was looking at) and repeated told me that all I needed to do was type in “company x”. (Please be aware I will not try to fully explain how long this encounter lasted or the level of frustration that grew.)

After some minutes, switching browsers and several trips around the same tree, Cindy said the magic word that would keep me from turning into butter (old story reference to several trips around a tree).  Google.

It turns out that the homepage on Cindy’s computer is Google.com.  She types in “company x” and underneath the search result for her company is a list of pages within the site, including, you guessed it…”select your association”.

Cindy doesn’t know what the address bar is on a browser.  I had typed in the .com and was given the company home page, which she may have never seen.  Cindy is not alone.

Last year, over the phone, I taught an 80 year old gentlemen how to create and use a WordPress blog.  It took some time but he figured it out.  We created the name and talked about themes, and wrote his first post.  And then the trouble started.  After that first post he naturally wanted to see his site.  We typed in the URL and nothing came up.  We did it again and again (I turned to butter) and again until I realized what was happening.  His homepage was Yahoo! and he was typing the name of the blog in the search bar.  We had just created the site 20 minutes early.  No one, including the Yahoo! spiderbots knew it was there so it had not been indexed.  To this day I’m not sure if he understood that Yahoo! is not the web.

You have users (probably quite a few) who don’t know as much as you do about the weather, or the Interwebs, but they need your data just like everyone else.

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About Kevin Selle

Chief Meteorologist, KFDX-TV. Co-host, WeatherBrains.
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