(Lack of) User Experience

I’d hope by this point anyone reading this blog understands that my passion for customer experience is a holistic one. I don’t believe one aspect or theory or channel is the “right” way. I believe it takes a measured, consistent examination of what is working and what isn’t across all channels to really deliver a superior experience that leads to better results.

But there’s one channel that gets a lot of attention: online. It’s not unusual for me to work on projects that are almost exclusively about user experience. Companies provide goods, services, communities, feedback and more via the Interwebz. And yet, even when this is the main (or exclusive) channel to connect with customers, they ignore what is really happening.

Here is a partial list of the offenses I’ve encountered recently:

  • If you’d like users to BUY from your site, then please make it easy to do so. The shopping cart shouldn’t be hidden, buried, or otherwise hard to get to. (This is often true when you are trying to get BACK to the cart. It’s vanished!)
  • Users will have questions about your products, your company, or your return policy for shipments to Guam. Some questions cannot be predicted, so make it easy for customers to find a way to contact someone directly.
  • Your blog or your white papers should not lead users to a foreign land of new windows with various URL’s.
  • If your form is smart enough to ask for my zip code first, then it should be smart enough to figure out my state. Ditto for asking for my time zone listed as “Chicago” and then requesting my country.
  • I like cool doodads as much as the next gal, but using them for cool’s sake is just silly. It’s easier to type in the year of birth rather than scroll through a drop down of the last century. It’s nicer to refine a number with a keypad than a slider. Think of the USE first, then the design.
  • If it’s a mobile site, then test it on different mobile devices. Figure out what happens when the user is punching a code on a tiny screen while bouncing around on a train.
User experience, like it or not, will always be both functional and emotional. There are loads of subjective parts to it. Some people will resist change no matter what happens, and others will be screaming it’s not enough. (Hello, Facebook!) However, use should really come first if you actually want people to DO something while on your site.
That felt good. Now it’s your turn to vent: What are your pet peeves with user experience?
Photo Credit: mag3737 via Creative Commons license

Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the Chief Customer Experience Investigator™ and founder of 360Connext, a global consulting firm specializing in the cornerstones of customer experience: customer engagement, employee engagement and connections like social media. 360Connext serves mid-market companies and larger by helping them evaluate their true customer experience. The evaluations always lead to improvements which then lead to results like increased online conversions or loyalty.

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Amen to your fifth point (the cool doodads) esp on the iPhone when you have to use a spinner control to select an item way down in the alphabet from hundreds of choices.


Jeannie, Excellent points. It is good to remember that we are selling to humans. They are not nameless, faceless Internet "bots". Treat them as humans and you will be rewarded with their loyalty; because so many sites have been designed by web designers who seem to have little regard for their human customers. Marc


@psparry I agree! It's even difficult on the iPad!


@MZazeela Thanks, Marc! Thinking of the humanity of the users is a very good way to remember who these web sites are for, anyway.