Firefox and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and free user testing


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

Our owner and CEO, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics twelve years ago. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a recent Diamond Award for business leadership. You should read her letter before you decide to work with us.

  • Anonymous

    I think the key here is that some people can’t or won’t accept that things change.

    What was true “All our users use MSIE” may not be any more. “Some of our users use Firefox”. Tomorrow it could just as easily be “80% of our users use the RobbinsFox Browser”.

    For us in the analytics game, it’s too easy a trap to assume that what was yesterday will be tomorrow. We should *always* be re-evaluating and verifying our assumptions. And I’m just as guilty of not doing that as the next person.

    Oh yeah. I work with one site that does 10’s of millions of page views a month, and MSIE is way less than 10% usage.

    Know your audience!

    It’s also possible that Madame T’s simply don’t have the resources to fix the problem for FFox either. Seen that one a few times. Not won’t. Can’t.

    – Steve

  • Daniel Waisberg

    Great post, there are so many websites that are not built for Firefox, it’s just amazing!

    I just read an interesting article about how Google started to thank people who find security flaws in their products by name in Google’s corporate website.

    Google thanks bug hunters:

    It seems that Google is ready to admit they make mistakes. In fact, a few weeks ago I read a very interesting story about Google that shows how they believe that a company that does not make mistakes does not move fast enough.

    As sir Ken Robinson said in his presentation at TED (, “those people that do not accept their mistakes, will never come up with an innovative solution to go out of that.”

    Daniel Waisberg

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