Monthly Archives: May 2008

Yet another example of the cost of bad email usability

Just got an email from Wimbledon Live containing the following

Dear Anders,

As a previous Wimbledon LIVE customer we are contacting you about your preferences. If you would like to be notified about the 2008 Wimbledon LIVE service, please take the following steps to update your preferences:

1) Go to www.wimbledon.org/LIVE.
2) Click “My Account/Login” on the left navigation bar.
3) Login with your email address and password.
4) Click “Change preferences”.
5) Check the box to sign up for the “MediaZone mailing list”.
6) Click “Save changes”.

We thank you for your continued interest in Wimbledon LIVE.

Sincerely,
MediaZone

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. I feel so sorry for the people who run the Wimbledon Live site, who are stuck with this horribly inept solution to something that should be very simple, such as

As a previous Wimbledon LIVE customer we are contacting you about your preferences. Please click on the link below if you would like to be notified about the 2008 Wimbledon LIVE service.

[here, there would be a link the user can click on which takes them to a web page where they can click on a button to confirm their preference - in other words, take the user directly to the last step above]

So what is the cost of those 5 extra unnecessary steps? Probably that a lot of people, such as myself, couldn’t be bothered to deal with them, which in turn means that less people will be notified about the 2008 service, which in turn means lost business.

This is just such a great example of designing without thinking holistically. In other words, just looking at the design of the individual web page or whatever as if it were its own little island, when the reality is that its part of a larger flow, a larger context.

On the brighter side, really looking forward to Wimbledon as always – though I don’t think he’ll do it, would be incredible if Federer pulled of six in a row.

IA, Policy, and the New York City Subway

Olga just sent me a link to her new project UX Social, in which she’s interviewing some guy on how IA could/should be applied to government policies and the like. Oh wait, that’s me!

(watch the 2nd part at Olga’s site)

In this interview, Olga gave me an opportunity to vent a little bit about the bane of my existence, and probably that of a few million other fellow New Yorkers, the MTA. Officially, the acronym stands for the Metro Transit Authority, though I think a more accurate meaning of is Mysterious Train Activity.

Anyhoo, one of the many many many stupid things that our beloved MTA did was to install ‘Emergency Exits’ at all of the several hundred subway stations. Problem is, these exits used to be normal exits, except they were bigger and wider than subway turnstyle exits, so that people with bikes and baby carriages could use them. The thing was, though, you had to press a tiny button next to the door and then wait for a subway attendant to buzz you through. And if there was no nearby attendant booth, well then there was no large exit door, so you’d have to trek to the opposite end of the station to be able to exit with your bike or whatever.

To address this problem, the MTA came up with a brilliant, brilliant!, solution. Y’know those doors with the big horizontal bar on the insider of the door that you push to exit? Well, they replaced all the old doors and installed additional doors at unattended areas with that *huuuge* button just begging to be pushed, which allows people to exit even if there is no attendant around. Oh, one small detail, there is a very noisy alarm that goes off when you push that huge irresistible button. But what do you care, you’re long gone up the stair and out of the subway, while the people on the platform have to contend with a sharp whining sound that seems like it’s never going to stop. Well, there’s more to the story, but check out Olga’s page for the rest of it.

Thanks Olga!

Oh, and she’s got lots of other great interviews with people a lot smarter than me at UX Social.