Just The Facts Ma'am

In my former job I always tried to link every address on our site (well, every address that wasn't the address of a resident from an open record) to driving directions. The tool changed over time - mapquest, mapblast, msn maps, yahoo!, google - but the intent was the same.

There was a side benefit to this; it meant I wouldn't put addresses up online that don't exist or that mapping software can't find. As the number of people who use services like google maps or GPS devices grows, this becomes more important; many users don't look up an address in a street guide and determine their own route, they rely on technology to do it for them. And the technology often does a better job and gives information that a map book couldn't - like Motel 6's on the route, or the nearest post office, or how long it will take to get from point a to point b.

Sometimes, however, I run into websites that frustrate me to no end.

They may have directions to how to get to the bricks and mortar location of the store, but they fail to support my choice to use technology.

This week I was frustrated by this address:
A Southern Season
Hwy 15-501 @ Estes Drive
University Mall
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

The problem with this address is that google doesn't know what HWY 15-501 @ Estes Drive is. This is compounded by the fact that I'm new to the area -- I don't know what this map means:

I need to know how to get to I-40 exit 270. Where do I get on to I-40? Which way do I turn? I can't tell! Moreover, this isn't a very good map. There's a point where 15-501 splits and you have to be in the correct lane or you go someplace alltogether (guess how I know this?). Google maps is pretty good; it says things like "veer hard left." This map kind of says that, but if you don't know already it's not very good. The scale is also wayyyy off. Evidently A Southern Season is 2 miles long!

I need those door-to-door directions the web does such a good job of giving, but in order to create them I need one itty bitty tiny piece of information: a real actual address.

In this case I finally googled "University Mall Chapel Hill" and found THAT website. It had, oh so helpfully, an actual address.

I think the take home messages are: 1)Your website does not exist in a vacuum and 2)Don't try to get so cute and "helpful" that you make things harder than they need to be.

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