Hammer in Search of Nails

I’ve had to particularly annoying website experiences in the last 48 hours, which is rather fortuitous in that one of our pre-boot camp exercises is to identify 2–3 poor user experiences, clearly define what was negative about them, and come up with recommendations of how these experiences could have been improved. Gladly.

The first frustrating experience was on the website called The Muse. I’m a big fan of this website’s content and I’ve read it for years (also, one of the founders is a Duke alum — woo!). I primarily read its content by clicking on the headlines that pop up in my RSS feed (I use Feedly…RIP Google Reader). This method of accessing content works just ducky. This is what it looks like:

Time to learn!

See those menus highlighted in red in the image above? Those are helpful. By clicking on “Get Advice” in the top menu, you can find various subtopics. Splendid, no? The answer is “Yes, until” — “Yes, until you try to get here from the home page.” Allow me to demonstrate:

Home Page. No menus to speak of.

Do you see the problem? I tried to make it nice and obvious. In red. There’s no menu, and hardly any options, other than to hand over your name and email. But I didn’t have to do that when I got the specific URL from Feedly! So why now? Perhaps if we scroll a bit…


Ah ha! There it is! Wait…no…it’s now just a black ribbon banner, without any of the menu content. More frustrating is that all of the content you scroll through on the site is un-clickable. What is happening??? How do I find that flippin’ article again?

Actual links!

When I finally hit the bottom of the screen, you find honest to goodness links! Glory! Never mind that none of them say “Get Advice” (so we’re still not where we want to be) — but you can actually click on these. And can you guess what happens if you click on one of these? I bet you can guess where I’m going with this…

Our hero returns

The menu returns! And now I can get to that valuable content that I want. Fantastic.

As for recommendations — this isn’t going to be earth shattering: Make the basic menu available from the home page. Making people search for it — especially when they know they’ve seen a valuable article before and are simply trying to relocate it — is mean. I have no doubt there’s some business reason for this oversight, but as a user I find it irritating.

The second frustrating experience I had involved Best Buy. Guys — this was bad. And bad in the worst way — like, I knew going into this that it was going to force me into the phone call that I didn’t want to make (because that’s a terrible, terrible fate), and lo and behold, I was right. Let me elaborate: I have used PCs my entire life. This course strongly encourages Macs, and some of the programs we’ll use are Mac-only. So I purchase a Mac on Best Buy because its the best price. I place this order on Monday evening. A couple hours later (still Monday evening), I get this notification:


Super! Welp, that’s not gonna be here in time, so I’ll have to cancel it and accept Apple.com’s slightly higher price. So, like any logical person, the next morning I get up and google how to cancel an order on Best Buy and this pops up:

Seems simple enough…

Great, so according to Best Buy’s own rules (bottom red highlight), I can still cancel this sucker. The steps seem easy enough. So into my “Orders” section I go:

There it is! Let’s click on “Order Details” and find the cancel button…

And surprise!!! There is no way to cancel. Not one option. No box to select, no link for the Order Number to click other than the computer itself, which just took you to the product page. So what had to happen? The dreaded call to Best Buy, which was particularly frustrating because I was told incorrect information and then had to wait for the silly thing to arrive and then return it in store. Which explains why this screenshot, which was taken after this saga, indicates that my computer had shipped. All in all, a terrible user experience and makes me not want to deal with Best Buy.

So as for recommendations for this one, I’d recommend having a box that would allow you to cancel the item. We’re supposed to sketch out the proposed screens that might be involved for this — I envision the user flow to look something the following:

  1. Same screen as above, but with an option to cancel
An option to cancel to the left

2. A nice simple screen where it asks you why you’re canceling and outlining how much you’ll be refunded.

A solid option of “Oops j/k” in there, too

3. A big confirmation telling you your cancellation was successful, identification of next steps/expectations (the email), and a way to get back to where you started (your orders).

Realized after taking the picture that I misspelled “canceled’ — damnit.

Seriously though, this is easy on other websites (ahem…Amazon), why make it so painful here?

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