Firefox And Madame Tussauds Wax Museum And Free User Testing


October 31, 2006

Earlier this week, I wrote that Madame Tussauds of London is the worst tourist website in England. But in fact, it is perfectly lovely and usable if you use IE.

You try it: open up a *Firefox* browser and type in the url:, which I made into a link for the 52% of this blog’s readers newsstand readers who use Firefox. See if you can figure out how to do anything besides visit other wax museums around the world.

I couldn’t do anything with the site, because the my computer screen looked like this

There was no navigation and no mousable links except the “visit another wax museum” stuff on the right. I kept thinking, maybe they have only one page for each city, but if so, why would they write, Book Online Now, in the blue bar at the bottom of the screen shot? Eventually, I found their site map at the very bottom of the page and was amazed that an entire site was being hidden behind the home page.

But before I blogged, I opened it up in IE. Wow, I thought, I don’t remember that navigation bar being right there where you would expect it, below the top banner:

In fact, it was just a case of the navigation getting compressed in Firefox. Most sites don’t have the kind of Firefox usage that my blog does, but I hear surveys that put usage at 18% and even over 20% in Europe. (And hey, doesn’t London count as Europe?)

History has taught me a few lessons about this problem. There is the obvious one: always check to see what your site looks like in other browsers. But this wasn’t an error they would probably have caught – they would have seen the site render nicely, and would have kept on going and may never have noticed that that thin line of navigation somehow dropped off the page. So in fact, we need to get our customers and readers to use our sites in other browsers.

A second lesson I have learned is not to expect the Madame Tussaud’s people to write me a thank you note. I always think that free user testing and lousy CGM is best handled with a comment, “Thank you so much for pointing out the Firefox problem we have. We’ll get on it right away!” But I can just imagine their response, it would probably be “All our customers use IE.” They may know that all their customers don’t use IE, but they probably don’t want to admit to it in print.

I, on the other hand, love when people write me and tell me about problems with my blog and my site. One man wrote once and told me that I had committed just the flip of the error above: my blog was messed up in IE. One lady in Massachusetts wrote me and told me that for months, My Yahoo was not picking up my feed correctly (I think FeedBurner waved a magic wand to fix that one.)

Wouldn’t it be great if sites gave away awards or just honorable mentions to customrs who cared enough to tell them that their sites weren’t working properly?

Robbin Steif