Why are Light Bulbs so Hard to Find at Target? UX IRL

On a recent trip to my local-area Target to buy a couple of new light bulbs for my apartment, I was taught a valuable lesson in User Experience. I needed a few other items and, since I knew their location, picked them up first. I then began to peruse the store in a slowly increasing panic I hadn’t experienced in Target since I had to shop alone for my 4-year-old niece. I began by searching the obvious places—lamps, home improvement, home décor…nothing. I could’ve asked an employee, but everyone knows it’s illegal for a man to ask for help. I finally found the light bulbs sandwiched between the pet food and cosmetics.
That’s when it hit me: This is a poor user experience (UX) come to life. I’m not upset with Target since I can’t imagine that light bulb placement is at the forefront of their board meetings. I’m glad they have the selection they do, but how does this placement make sense? Have you ever visited a website and searched endlessly without finding what you needed? It’s frustrating, not unlike finding light bulbs in Target. And it happens for the same reason: No one thinks to send someone to the site with a specific product in mind. No one takes the time to test; they only take the time to stock.
So what’s the lesson? Start with the goal and move backward. It’s great that you make it easy for people to order your widget, but also make it easy for them to research it, read reviews, locate sale terms, and calculate shipping costs. Remember that a “Call To Action” isn’t always about the filet mignon in the window, sometimes it’s just finding the light bulbs.


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