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Take care of the pennies, Yahoo…

Yahoo have been copping a bit of strife lately about the way they’re running their business. Think what you will of their business strategy, the thing that bothers me the most is that I’ve been trying to give them money for Flickr for a couple of years now and failing abysmally. Every now and then I go back and check, thinking that surely they have fixed this revenue leak by now, but as of this morning, they’re still not allowing me to give them money for their service.

I reckon they’ve missed out on at least $50 from me, which is not much I guess. But I’m far from alone.

What’s the problem? Well, it’s a two stage thing. If I’m missing something obvious (and with that, two years of pro-membership) please do let me know.

The first problem – I want to pay with my credit card.

The credit card I previously used has expired (as they do). The only option I’m given around credit card payment is to EDIT the card, which I select. In order to proceed I then have to re-enter the card number OF MY EXPIRED CARD! Now, show of hands, how many people actually hold onto expired credit cards and would actually be able to complete this task? Anyone?!

larger image here.

After going backwards and forward searching for the part where I can simply add a new card I give up and go to plan B – using PayPal. I use PayPal all the time, I used it last week on eBay and it worked fine. And yet, when I try to pay for my Flickr account using PayPal this is what I’m told:

larger image here.

‘The email you entered is not associated to this payment agreement you are trying to confirm. Please try again’.

That isn’t even a sentence, right? I think I get the gist of what they’re saying but even with my advance PayPal skills (I moved from one country to another and still have a PayPal account – anyone else who has done that knows exactly how much more you know about PayPal than you ever wanted to) I’ve tried everything I know and can’t get this to work.

At any rate, I’ve now spent way more time on this than Flickr is worth to me. My once great love of Flickr is now dead. Yahoo has not only lost my $50, they’ve also lost my emotional connection to their brand and my previous evangelism – worth way more than all the pro subscriptions I’d ever pay in a lifetime would be worth.

But – here’s the point of the story (because I don’t really want to waste your time moaning about one company’s crappy user experience, where would we stop!) – this is a revenue point. This is a place in the user journey where money changes hands.

If you have a product that has interfaces like this – places where people are giving you money – please pay particular attention to them. Make sure they are working. Make it as easy as possible for me to give you my money.

There’s an old saying, ‘take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’. I don’t think it’s entirely true – I think the pounds actually need their own special UX strategy but having lots of pennies come into the coffers to support us as we come up with great new ways of making lots of pounds is eminently sensible and a great way to STAY IN BUSINESS!

Don’t let easy money like this leak away. If you have interfaces like this one that might also be leaking, go check them now.

And, while you’re at it, make a note to check on them regularly.

Meanwhile, if you want to see my baby pics, I’ll be over at Facebook. I’m still looking for a new place to share my UX pics. Suggestions welcome.

Drupal.org redesign – help usability test Iteration 6 next week!

As you may have read, we’ll be doing some usability testing on the 6th iteration of the Drupal.org prototype in London next week. It seems like a great time to also kick off some crowdsourced usability testing, as we’d talked about earlier, and for any of you who’d like to get involved to do so!

(UPDATED!) Iteration six is now live here. I’d like to encourage you to take part in our Crowdsourced Usability Testing Campaign by doing a few tests yourself, wherever you are in the world, and contributing your findings back to the project.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Find some participants to take part – we want a mix of people along the spectrum of Drupal involvement from those who don’t know much to those who know lots and are super involved. Some tips for recruiting can be found here (feel free to add any other tips you have to our wiki!)
  2. Take a look at the prototype and work out how you’re going to approach the interview – some interview tips and a sample script can be found here (again, feel free to add more!)
  3. Work out a way to record your interview – some ideas here. Personally, I’ve found remote testing more hassle than it’s worth and much prefer to do in person interviewing. My technology of choice is a MacBook with Silverback installed for audio and video recording (you can get a 30 day trial for free). 
  4. Do your interviews!
  5. Share your interviews and findings! I’ve been exporting and posting some interviews on Vimeo, which is my preferred video sharing site. You can put yours wherever you like, just link to them from the comments of this post once they’re posted (and/or add them to the wiki where mine are now) – if you have some time to write up what you’ve learned as a result of the testing that would be fantastic! (If not, don’t worry, we’ll take a look through the video ourselves!)

That’s it! Not so hard at all, is it!

If you have any questions at all, post them here (no matter how silly they may sound, chances are others have exactly the same question or it’s something I forgot to cover in this post or on the wiki!) – I or someone else helpful will get back to you ASAP.

This is a great opportunity to help out with the Drupal project and a great chance to get some usability testing experience under your belt – which is a really fantastic skill to have, whatever aspect of design or development you’re most into. I really encourage you to give it a try and look forward to seeing what you come up with! I’ll be sharing my videos as soon as I can export them after usability testing sessions on Monday 3/11

If you’re able to do some testing early next week and post your feedback mid-late next week that would be fantastic. If this schedule doesn’t work for you – don’t fret – more iterations are coming hot on the heels of this one and more testing will be required and welcomed! You can get involved in the next few weeks if that suits you better.

Good luck, thank you and yay!

Drupal.org – Crowdsourcing Usability Testing – Get Involved!

Another day, another way to be involved in the Drupal.org redesign project, and this one’s a little different – but I think it’s going to be great fun!

Here’s what we’re going to do.

I’m going to be doing some remote usability testing using screen sharing and screen recording software that I’ll share back with all of you and that will help guide the ongoing design of the prototype. In particular, I’m going to be doing research with ‘outsiders’.

If you have either experience or interest in helping in this research effort, then I invite you to help test the prototype, either by doing more online remote research, or – even better – by doing some ‘in person’ research with people near you – especially people who are Drupal insiders.

We can then all post the videos of our research together with our findings and recommendations in a central location, building an amazing resource to document the progress of the prototype and what has guided the decision making as it is designed.

We’ll be asking people to help out with testing for each iteration as it is released, so if you’re too busy (or nervous) now, then never fear, opportunities abound. In fact, there’s no reason why this should stop just because the redesign team are off the case.

This is a little more complicated than our original crowdsourcing effort (wireframing), so I’ve quickly thrown together the skeleton of a wiki where we can pull together a toolkit of need to know information for this project – technology to use, how to interview, how to analyse results, that kind of thing. If you have expertise in this area, please feel free to pitch in a few recommendations.

You can find the Crowd Sourcing Research Wiki here. (Be warned, it’s pretty ugly, but I’m too excited about this to spend time making it look pretty – anyone who wants to do so is more than welcome).

So, consider yourself invited. If you’d like to be involved in helping test the prototype then please get involved. If you’ve wanted to try your hand at usability testing but have never had the opportunity, here it is. Exciting, huh? :)

Heathrow Terminal 5 – Another rant about respecting conventions

This seems to be my theme at the moment. Respect conventions.

Respecting conventions doesn’t mean that you have to slavishly follow them, that would be boring and unnecessary, BUT if you *are* going to break with convention then make sure it is very well sign posted, otherwise people will make mistakes.

I give you terminal 5 at Heathrow. 

Firstly a quick question – how long before an international flight do you need to get to the airport? 

The vast majority of people would say that the conservative answer is 2 hours but they don’t usually give it quite that long. 

Another quick question – how long before a flight to a European destination do you need to get to Heathrow? 

Again, most people will give you an answer around the 1 hour mark.

Now… you may already know this, but if you want to fly from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Istanbul in Turkey (as I did the other day – yes the weather is beautiful, thank you!) they want you to get there not one, not two, but THREE hours before your flight.

We arrived an hour before our flight the other day and were severely reprimanded and had to be given ‘permission’ to proceed from the check in desk to try to get our flight. Fortunately (for us) the entire security software system crashed and massive queues meant that most flights (including ours) were delayed and we made our flight with plenty of time to spare.

So, given that getting to the airport 3 hours before the flight is apparently a big deal for BA, and given that T5 is relatively new, and given that in all my years of international flights, I’ve never been expected to be anywhere any earlier than 2 hours before the flight, you might expect that BA would make a big song and dance about this 3 hour requirement.

You’d be wrong.

They *do* make a big song and dance about the fact that we were leaving from T5 and that T5 is a new terminal. I definitely knew that because they advised me at almost every interaction I had with them regarding this flight (and these days there are quite a few touchpoints between purchasing the ticket and boarding the flight). But what did they tell me about time?

This is an excerpt from the email they sent me one week before the flight, specifically to help me to prepare for my upcoming flight:

IMPORTANT: For flights departing from Terminal 5, you must pass through ticket presentation and security at least 35 minutes before the flight departs. For other important information about passport, visa and UK domestic flight security checks, please visit ba.com/t5information.

So, honestly. Do they *really* expect me to turn up 3 hours early when this is the information they give me.

Perhaps they do, but I can tell you that a good portion of the passengers for the Istanbul flight were stuck in the security queue with us, having arrived much later than 3 hours before. And I doubt that it was because they were being naughty travelers, or that they liked the adrenaline rush of almost missing a flight. They just assumed, as we did, that turning up an hour before a flight from London to somewhere in Europe was the right thing to do, because that’s what we’ve done many times before.

This is what we do as humans. We make assumptions based on past experience and if we think we *know* how something works we don’t bother investigating it in detail, because we could spend our time and energy investigating things we think are new and interesting.

If people are making assumptions about your product, service or interface design and you’re *not* following the conventional approach, make sure whatever you’re doing differently is very clearly signposted. And then signposted again. Otherwise mistakes will happen.

And a customer who is making a mistake is very rarely a happy customer.

(disclaimer – yes, yes. I know that technical Istanbul is both European and Asian, doesn’t really make a difference to the discussion tho’)

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