My focus is on making software, coaching Agile/Scrum teams, and being a husband and father--definitely not on blogging--so please do not expect very frequent posts here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

UX in the wild: “What do you want from me?”

I was recently looking into opening a CaringBridge web site, since I have a special needs daughter with an undiagnosed genetic syndrome. Trying to sign up, I encountered this page:

As an aside: do they even want men to sign up for this site?  Pink and hearts and lowercasing and round fonts and flowers and puppies and rainbows pervade this site, on this page and other pages.  But I digress.
More importantly, notice the form in the screenshot above. I was somewhat puzzled as to which options to choose. Hmm, myself or someone else. Am I creating an account for someone else, on their behalf, or am I creating an account site to benefit someone else, but it is my site?  All I am prompted with is “who is it for”?  I decided it was for my daughter—it is for her benefit, but not for her personally to use.
That was a pretty easy decision, but then I’m confronted with the first name/last name fields.  Do I type my name or my daughter’s name?  Again, the direction is ambiguous.  I started typing my name, presumably because I’ve done this before on hundreds of web sites. It makes sense to me that I would perhaps type in my daughter’s name in a later step.  However, a few clues told me otherwise—the fields are indented under “someone else”, and the following field is “enter your e-mail”, making me guess that the name fields are not asking “enter your name”.  Also, the submit button (properly left-aligned but improperly indented) is labeled “preview site”, telling me there relaly is no step 2 (despite the 4 numbered circles listed at the top) and it would only make sense to put my daughter’s name on this field.  I entered her name and was able to get the preview of my site.  My guesses were right.
The design of this page forgot Jakob’s Law of the Web User Experience: people spend nearly all of their time on other web sites, not yours.  It was only a small gaffe, and the page contained enough clues for me to figure it out, but how many hundreds of users had the same confusion I did?
Incidentally, we also see that we should serve your target market first (here, moms) but don’t alienate your largest secondary market (dads) in the process.
Hat tip to Kamran Ayub for the “Experience in the wild” idea. Others have done this a lot, but I was just reading a few such posts from his blog.  Thanks, Kamran!