Category Archives: shame

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.

User control and freedom

A basic rule of software design is to provide people with an emergency exit, if (for example), they don’t happen to have the device handy when they decide to install the software.

So how do I get out of this screen?


What’s going on at Skype Update HQ?

Today, Skype told me that it needed to update itself. You know the kind of thing:


So I clicked on the “Update” button and then saw this dialog box:


I thought it was curious that it was “Downloading 32.7 MB of 22.2 MB”, but I let it carry on with the download in the hope it would sort itself out.

Finally, a third dialog box appeared:


I think the developers did a good job of dealing with this problem in their user interface but it’s sad that a mass market application like Skype has this problem at all. 

Hidden controls

I’m all for supporting free software, but I don’t think it’s right to trick people into doing it.

I came across this dialog box in Vuze. Where would you click if you didn’t want to donate?

If you’re still stuck, look to the left of the mouse cursor.

Black hat usability taken a little too literally

I get lots of spam mail. I’m sure you do too. Lately, I’ve found myself looking for the ‘unsubscribe’ link in the emails that I’m sent.

I received this today. Where would you click if you wanted to unsubscribe?


If you check the footer, you’ll see that the unsubscribe link is written in black. Yes, a black link on a black background.




I truly hope there is a special place in hell for designers who do this kind of thing.

woes

Increasingly these days I find myself visiting a site that I used in the dim and distant past but unsure if I actually registered at the site. Royal Mail is one example. I visited the site today to buy postage for a large letter, went through the long process of creating a stamp and then reached the dreaded ‘Register or sign in’ screen. After trying to register it helpfully pointed out that my email address was already on file, so I guessed at my password and hey presto I was signed in. However, rather than being greeted by my basket I saw this error message.

“You are already registered for this brand/community. You can not register again.”

I clicked the shopping basket icon on the top right of the screen, but that just seemed to link to the shop. 

I gave up and put two 1st class stamps on the envelope, overpaying by 20p or so. 

Maybe that’s their secret plan.


Speak the user’s language

This screenshot comes from a web site where I’m registered and where I’ve bought items in the past. What do you think I did wrong?


It turns out I entered a different e-mail address to the one I used to register at this site. But I’m not sure how I was meant to divine that from this error message.