I have several accounts with a credit card company: two cards and a merchant account. They don’t want the expense of printing monthly statements for the merchant account, so they sent me a letter to enroll my merchant account in online statements to avoid the paper charge.
In my default browser (Safari), I attempt to log in. I can’t (Problem #1). In fact, I end up in browser limbo, with some message about too many redirect (Problem #2). I try to log in in Explorer. I can’t. It tells the me password is wrong (Problem #3). I call the 800 number three times before I get someone who tells me I need a new user id. I ask why. The nice lady says, “We keep our businesses separate, so you need a user id.” I say, “But (and I’m starting to rave here), the web UI looks the same. I have tabs at the top of each page that allow me to move back and forth. If you’ve integrated the web page, why not integrate the user ids???” (I’m definitly speaking loudly, because I’m so angry with the stupidity, waste of my time, and lack of documentation.) Poor lady just keeps saying they keep their business separate (Problem #4).
These are serious problems. I’m not a UI designer — I’m a user. This makes me an expert — in using computer systems, not designing them. The problems:
- If a user attempts to log in and can’t, catch the error. Safari shouldn’t have tried to deal with this error, the web site app should have. Catching an unable to log in error is basic programming. How could they have missed this?
- Why do you care what browser your users use? The world is full of browsers. That’s why we have Java. Accomodate all the browsers. Sure it means that you have to write code more carefully and test on many platforms. Is it worth losing any customers because your developers were too lazy to write good code?
- Make sure the error text matches the error. There was nothing wrong with my password; they wanted a new user id. The problem is the text on the page. The text says “New user? Create an id.” But I’m not a new user. I manage my credit cards online every month. I’m an experienced user. The instructions were inadequate, as well as the error text.
- If you have a consistent look and feel to the site, and you’re trying to seel multiple services to one customer, don’t make the customer have multiple ids, one for each service. I’m sure that having multiple ids makes it easy for this company to track revenue by division. But it makes it much harder for me to manage my user ids and passwords. Who is the customer here?
To add insult to injury, I can’t write this in an email and send them feedback. (Problem #5) I can call (and spend more time on hold? No thank you), but I can’t write. So, I’ve now made a public example of a stupid website. Great. When I make mistakes, I want people to tell me, not write about it somewhere public. Gotta wonder why these people don’t care.
Ok, tirade about stupid UIs off. Back to work.