Error: Bad User Experience

This post is about a great example of a bad user experience due to a bad user interface.

I was attempted to renew my cycling racing license at usacycling.org.  A problem first arose when I was not able to retrieve my password because it didn’t recognize my “secret answer.” I cannot attest to what was wrong with their secret answer functionality, but I can attest to the malfunction in their error message:error-message

“You will need to contact a member service coordinator...”?!?

What is a member service coordinator?  What about a direct link to one?  Or at least tell me where to go on your site to figure out how to get to one?  It’s obvious that I needed help or I wouldn’t have been shown this message.  Yet nothing was done to help me solve my problem.

Okay, their mistake, but I am a smart enough guy.  I next went to the contact page (image below.)

Contact-us

I guessed that my Member Service Coordinator (now capitalized, it wasn’t before) would be for the West Region, as I live in Colorado.

Wrong.

It was the Member Service Representative that ultimately assisted me along this cumbersome and annoying journey to renewing my racing license.

What did they do wrong? They made the user hunt and chase. And that makes for a bad user experience.

I think I need to go unwind on a bike ride now.

When Cell Phones Lose Their Signal

shutterstock_36322162A person I know (who shall go unnamed) has the most delightful and handy of devices: a cellphone jammer.  This pocket-sized contraption renders your cellphone useless if you are within 20 feet or so.  It’s also apparently illegal because it’s a mini radio transmitter of sorts, which is the domain of the FTC.

Imagine you are at a restaurant or movie or grocery shopping (the list is endless these days, as people have no bounds or respect for one another when it comes to cell phones). The person next you is yacking away on a “very important” cell phone call.  One flip of a switch and his cell phone just became an expensive (and quiet) calculator.  A panicked look at the signal indicator: “no signal.”  Checking settings… turning the device off and on… Silence.

Observing the human behavior in these scenarios reveals a disturbing picture of our acquired addiction to devices. People would seemingly prefer texting, tweeting, f-booking, and Candy Crushing to talking, even in the company of another flesh and blood human. But there is hope.

I’ve witnessed this jammer work miracles in redirecting people’s attention from screen to face, fostering actual conversation when they stopped fighting the no-service horror. I’ve seen the entire mood at a restaurant table change as people were forced to put away their useless devices and engage with one another. This is the stuff of sociology studies.

I’m not advocating that you acquire one of these illegal humanity restoring devices. I am, however, advocating that you don’t be “that person” engaged with his or her device when there is a perfectly good human at hand. The device and everything on the internet will be there always, but the moment and the person will not.