“If you grow up in a town with sidewalks, a suburb without them seems somehow wrong. Design instinct is cultural, not genetic.”

Seth Godin

I’ve never liked Home Depot.

When I was younger, I remember feeling a sense of dread every time our family made a trek there. I always thought it was because I dreaded doing the hard work that was associated with a trip to that store.

I’ve since found out that I’m just wicked unhandy. See this? This is what’s left of my new showerhead.

Oops - a piece of my exploded showerhead

I tried to install it. Something went terribly, terribly wrong and the base of the thing (where you attach it to the pipe coming out of the wall) shattered. Not split. Not cracked. Fuckin’ shattered like glass.

This is not the first time I’ve Nick-Hulked something in our house. Our THIRD set of glass tumblers can attest to that.

My wife makes me drink from a sippy cup now. I’d protest, except I kinda like it.

Even so, I still don’t like Home Depot. I didn’t fully realize why until yesterday when my wife mentioned that the entire store is set up counter-intuitively. She then proceeded to point out every single thing that she didn’t like about the store.

My wife hardly ever complains, until it comes to retail that is. Her biggest complaint: Home Depot has no sidewalks.

Seriously. Ours has no sidewalks. Not one. Every inch of pavement from the door to the parking lot is filled with something: flowers, carts, displays, whatever. You step out of your car and you’re in the street. There’s no pedestrian areas. Kinda like Frogger – the home edition.

One does not simply walk into Home Depot.

One Does Not Simply Walk Into Home Depot

One hauls ass to dodge impatient contractors in trucks.

This day in particular, I wanted to get a tube of cement patch. I wandered all the way over to the cement area (the far South side of the store. A hike of what had to be five nightmarish miles of contractors and tools away from where you enter). There’s something like eight different kinds.

If you asked me right now to name my six favorite programming languages, I could. Draw a near-perfect blueprint of the USS Enterprise-D’s bridge? OK. Create a marketing plan for a small business around FourSquare and Facebook? No problem. Recite Hamlet in Klingon? jIvanglaH

Ask me to pick out a cement patch that will work well in Colorado weather. I will make a face like this:

Man Not Caring

In the absence of an employee to help guide my decision, since the ones standing at the contractor desk too busy happily flirting away with each other to notice my patching product pickle, I pick the brand that looks like it was made special for small, handy children. If a six year old can do it, dammit, so can I. I’ll let you know if it worked next time. Here’s a hint: total fail.

To use the Kiddy Patch, I need a caulk gun, which is – wait for it – on the far North side of the store.

We zig-zaged across the store through the too-wide aisles that somehow, always, give you not enough room to avoid angry-looking homeowners who are here on a quest of their own. I’m sure we seem much the same to them as they do to us: lost souls. Damned to forever wander these corridors, never finding the one thing that will allow you to go ho- wait, here it is.

Caulk gun procured, we found our way to self checkout, where a 40-something woman is staring intently at her cell phone. We dutifully check out while she OMGs and ROFLs and DIAFs with her BFF. Meanwhile, I learn that you can pay with Paypal at Home Depot. She doesn’t look up as we walk past, “Have a good … ” she doesn’t bother to finish, since she no longer knows or cares what time it is.

Time has no meaning in the Depot.

As we prep for the second round of Frogger to get back to the car, my wife turns to me and says, “You know what I hate about this place?”

Which brings us back to sidewalks… and your website.

Believe it or not, websites are a lot like a house – a house with sidewalks. Just like a sidewalk allows people to walk past your house and take a browse, your content can stream all around the web – without you having to lift a finger. How are your website’s sidewalks? For that matter, how are the shingles? The gutters? The windows?

Could you use some help with that? I just might have the answer for you: I teamed up with my friend Annie Sisk of PJ Productivity to create Help My Awful Website.

Help My Awful Website brings two web pros – Annie and Me – and our combined twenty years of experience together, to audit your website.

Think of us as house inspectors – we poke, prod, climb into the attic, crawl under the subfloor – and then we tell you how to fix it. How? Well, we walk through your site, step-by-step, with a massive checklist of things we think are critical to a great business website and record this as a screencast you can watch later or show to your own web person. You also get the report of our findings along with our suggested fixes.


The first 10 people to go to Help My Awful Website and ask us to audit their website get the service for $50 off (the normal price is $149 and once ten folks sign up, you’ll have to pay full price). Annie is sending out a notice to her list, too. But, I like you guys, so I sent out my post first. Her readers can suck it 😉 – Go Team Armstrong!

Want a taste of what we look at? Just go to http://helpmyawfulwebsite.com and snag our 7-page self-help checklist. It’s on the house and a great resource if you’re a DIY-er.

Use it to patch up your sidewalks. Hell, use it to make sure you have sidewalks in the first place. And stay tuned for the rest of the story next week when I tell you what happened with the Kiddy Patch.

(Header photo: Home Depot)