Do not punish your users for a poor UX

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Allow me to tell you my harrowing snow storm tale. My wife was trying to navigate us home on public transportation on Saturday night. Full disclosure, she’s not the best with consumer technology; she’s a software developer. Our destination was Cushing St in the city of Waltham. Little to our knowledge, there were other Cushing streets on our way home in Cambridge and in Belmont. I still don’t know where she was navigating to, but we heard Cushing St on the bus with zero visibility due to the storm and in the middle of the night so we jumped off into a sea of freezing white. We stood on the corner bewildered as we came to the realization that we were not in Waltham but somewhere else. Because of the snow coming down, maneuvering our mobile phones was impossible. Because of the cold, we were a bit on the the-world-is-horrible side.

Finally, I got my phone to work and managed to open the awesome Uber app. “We’re saved!,” I thought to myself as I shivered. Trying to work the app I put in our destination and then hit the metaphorical go button; super excited when my desperation dissipated to the sight on my phone that a car was just 4 minutes away. Unfortunately, my desperation reared it’s ugly head again as I realized the destination and pick up locations were reversed. Further, there was no destination, just the pick up? In a panic, I called our confused Uber driver to tell him this effort was futile, they were likely 10-15 minutes away. He tried to convince me that he could make it to my destination in a few minutes, but with the storm I knew that to be untrue.

So I cancelled the ride, much to everyone’s dismay. Then I very carefully and cautiously commanded my shivering fingers to the pick up and destination areas of the Uber app. Finally, we were saved by another driver! Happy to pay the surcharge considering the weather. Not happy, however, upon the realization that the frustration caused to me by the confusing user experience resulted in my being penalized. Furthermore, because this has happened several times to some degree or another. Where I open the Uber app in an attempt to remedy a transportation foley but the app is so confusing to a hurried user that I give up and hail a taxi.

Uber, I implore you to revisit your core task and design. I also humbly ask to be refunded the $10. For my lesson has been learned. I only hope others do not have to suffer as I did.

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Danger: Tedious eCheckout Design

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I opened up an enticing message from ThinkGeek a couple days ago that seduced me over to their site because they were having a clearance sale. I loaded up the site and found myself opening tab after tab of items that I was going to add to my cart.

Once I couldn’t see what my tabs were anymore I started going through the items to add the to my cart. Low and behold… *cue dramatic dum-dum-dum* there was no “add to cart.” A little stricken, I figured I’d just play along and clicked “Buy Now.”

Which led me to my entire cart. So I closed that tab and continued on. But item after item, I was sent back to view my cart. Making what should be a one step process, two or three, depending on how you get back to shopping.

After that, I couldn’t help but notice this serious flaw in their customer workflow. Why would you keep reminding your customer how much money they are spending? It should be a painless one step process: shop to your heart’s content, edit cart once, and checkout. This way you internalize the total once, not after every item.

What’s even more painful, is when I decided to finally checkout, the checkout process seemed to take forever despite my having an account, that should make the process speedier… Point is, I got so frustrated I decided to go without that sweet doormat with welcome in binary. *sigh*

One last thing, it might be a good idea to take down items once they are out of stock, since you don’t show it until you open the product detail page, it’s only adds to frustration.