Evaluating Sexy Alexa

by RhodesTer on May 18, 2010

in Humor/Satire, San Francisco

Alexa ChungLast week I was contacted via email by someone named “Alexa,” who wanted me to come over to her apartment and look at her etchings.

Then, after having a cup of coffee and taking a closer look, I realized it wasn’t etchings she wanted me to look at, but her website. She wanted me to give her advice on it, like is it easy to use and stuff like that.

Then I had another cup of coffee and looked again, and saw that it wasn’t actually anyone named Alexa, but rather, it was ALEXA INTERNET, which has been putting toolbars on the computers of willing participants since before the turn of the century.

That makes them seem really old, doesn’t it?

I’ve had one of those toolbars for quite a while, and it turns out I recently visited the Alexa website, which I don’t remember, and signed up with something, which I really don’t remember, and they somehow found out I live in San Francisco so they invited me over for a chat, since they live here too.

This is the email..

Alexa Internet is seeking 1 additional participant for a usability study to help us improve the Web site. As an Alexa user who has recently visited Alexa.com, I am reaching out to you personally to see if you would be interested in participating.

The key points:
• We are looking for someone to participate immediately! (Preferably in the next day or so)
• The test sessions will last around 90 minutes.
• Test participants will need to furnish their own transportation to and from the Alexa office in the Presidio
• Test participants will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card as a “Thank you” for participating.


Actress Alexa Chung, after having sent me an email invitation to evaluate her website

So I responded and said, “Sure, I’d LOVE to come over and look at your website!” After that a guy named Chris got back to me and told me to come on Friday, and gave me directions. He confirmed that they’d shower me with presents from Amazon for participating.

Friday came and I hopped on a San Francisco Muni Bus and headed for the Presidio, which is where Alexa lives. Who knew? When I got there I realized I forgot my camera. So in a stroke of creative genius I’m posting pics of sexy actresses named “Alexa,” in lieu of any pics of the actual Internet company.

You’re welcome.

The Presidio is the former army base here in San Francisco that once belonged to the Mexicans and the Spanish before that, and then the Americans before finally not being an Army base any longer and becoming a National Park.

It still kind of looks like an old Army base but it’s totally open and you don’t need to go through a guarded gate, it’s just another neighborhood in the city now, albeit one with old Army buildings, barracks and ancient historical artillery equipment scattered around.

Alexa lives in one of the old barracks, which brought back memories of my Navy days, because most basic military barracks look alike. I commented about this to Chris when he met me at the door and he said, “You mean guys used to live and sleep right here in our office spaces?”

Yes Chris, they did, long ago.

Alexa Chung

Actress Alexa Chung greets Rhodester in her own special way as he arrives at her barracks at the Presidio

But now it’s all tables, desks and computers, with spaces divided up into cubicles and tiny offices with dividers and that sort of thing. I didn’t get a tour, since Chris was anxious to get down to the business of what they brought me in for, so we went into a room that had a couple of laptops set up and he explained to me how the “testing” would work.

“There’s no right or wrong to this,” he said. “We’re only interested in how easily you navigate our website when given a certain task to do, and your feedback will help influence our future design.”

Alexa Devalos

Actress Alexa Devalos sleepily watches as Rhodester evaluates her website

This is like all kinds of cool, because I’m seldom asked what my opinion is on anything, let alone have someone tell me my opinion will actually matter and then throw gifts at me for telling them what it is.

Chris started the laptop and explained that my session would be recorded by the webcam, but he assured me it’d be used for in-house evaluation only and wouldn’t be posted to YouTube or anything like that. So if you see me somewhere online going through a website evaluation process please let me know, so I can sue them.

Thank you.

(I notice he didn’t say it wouldn’t be shown at the office Christmas party, edited and set to a Lady Gaga soundtrack. I hope I’m not giving them ideas here.)

Then he brought up their site. It looks like this..

Alexa Website

I spent the next hour and a half pretending I was a big-shot company owner who did worldwide Internet business (HAR!) and following instructions like, “Now you want to see what keywords the competition is using to drive business and maybe use them yourself, so find out what they are.”

Whenever I did one of these tasks I was given a little questionnaire.. “How easy was this task? Did it suit your needs? Did you find what you needed quickly?”

It was basically what they said it would be.. a website evaluation.

Alexa Vega

Actress Alexa Vega contemplates downloading the new RhodesTer Chronicles Toolbar

After covering pretty much the entirety of the Alexa website, I left there with a new appreciation of what goes into the design of something like that. I don’t know if they’re going to implement any of my suggestions, like putting pics of sexy models and actresses named Alexa on their site, but I do know I picked up a few tips that I’m going to implement here at The RhodesTer Chronicles.

So stay tuned for THE RHODESTER CHRONICLES TOOLBAR, which you will download, install and use to track stupidity.

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