Category Archives: shame

Use this menu to navigate

Are Lloyds Bank customers somewhat dimmer than the rest of the world, we wonder? In the ‘Products Explained’ part of their web site they have a left-hand menu with help text that reads: ‘Use this menu to navigate’.


Here’s the menu in context (click for a larger view):


This is one of those ‘features’ that sometimes appears in a redesign after a usability test. ‘No-one used the left hand menu,’ reports the usability analyst, ‘probably because people’s eyes are drawn to the colours and links in the centre of the page’.

‘I know,’ thinks someone from marketing, ‘Let’s do something to draw people’s attention to the menu’.

The problem is that the more you ‘draw people’s attention’ to parts of the page, the less usable the whole page becomes.

Thanks to John Rieger for telling me about this.

Note added

After posting this, @NeilDavidson pointed out that this design pattern has provenance:

What does a ‘no-reply’ email address say about you?

I got this email today from a company asking me to complete a survey.


I thought that there was an interesting juxtaposition at the top of the email.


I noticed that my opinion wasn’t just important to them: it was essential.

And then, just below this message, I noticed: “This is a send-only e-mail. Please do not reply to it.”

So my opinion is essential, but only if it’s given in the right format.

I’m not sure when no-reply emails became fashionable, but in my view, using them is the antithesis of being customer centred. What a ‘no-reply’ email address says is: “Our time is much more important than yours. If you want to contact us, you’ll need to wade through our convoluted online form, specifically designed to keep customers like you at arm’s length.”



What does this icon mean?


(a) The disk 500GB is nearly full.

(b) The disk 500GB is about to fail.

(c) The disk 500GB is running at turbo speed.

When I polled a group of people on Twitter, the correct answer (c) was chosen by about a third of people. Most people picked (b): “It looks like it’s about to blow, Captain!”

The icon appears when you install Western Digital’s drivers. It’s meant to show that the disk is in turbo (high speed) mode. But there’s something not right about that needle pointing to the red zone…

No wonder Groupon are going out of business

I read that Groupon are struggling at the moment. I thought I’d visit their site and have a cursory look at the user experience.

It turns out that they won’t even let you use the site without signing up — or at least, they hide the close box behind the pop-up so well that it may as well be registration only.

This kind of design mistake went out in the mid-90s. 

They could also do with some help with their geolocation algorithm. They think I’m in Belfast. In fact, I’m currently in Stamford, CT. 


Must try harder

I saw these two juxtaposed tweets in my Twitter stream today. These kinds of issues are par for the course with new software, but in an old timer like Office it’s very hard to excuse.


We have expectations about page layout

Quick question: If you wanted to search this web site for a product, where would you click?


Maybe you managed to stop yourself in time, realising that the field at the top right is in fact a newsletter sign up form, not search. But I’m sure that they must have many other users who type search requests in that field. The fact is, we have certain expectations about where certain items will be on a web page. As a designer it makes sense to cash in on those expectations rather than try to subvert them.