case studies · user experience

the challenges of migrating & good experience design

20 Meg Broadband

A funny thing happens when you migrate to London. You lose your past. Or at least so it seems in many situations. Try to lease a flat to live in and you’ll need six months credit history in the UK and references from UK landlords. Real Estate agents are legally required to pay no heed to credit histories from other countries, or lovely references from your last landlord. They just don’t count. You can, however, pay 6 months rent in advance to secure a flat. (Yes, that’s six months… crazy stuff).

Try getting a bank account, and again, there is a legally required disposition to regard you as a potential money launderer and/or terrorist, unless you can show evidence of residence in the UK – preferably in the form of a drivers license, or a utility bill. Neither of which you will get without a flat that you own or rent, which you’ll probably not get without a bank account.

Want a mobile phone – for the first six months you’re pretty much stuck with ‘pay as you go’ – unless you can find a nice mobile phone dealership who are willing to be flexible with the truth. You’ll need a bank account and credit record here too. Even then they might require you to pay a large deposit.

I’ve been trying to get broadband on at home recently (you can get 8Meg broadband over here – I’m dying to try *real* broadband!). Of course, all the same problems are repeated and I’m being treated again like a person with a dodgy credit record until – amazingly and completely out of the blue – a man from TeleWest (who I’m trying to get my connection with) calls me and says that he specialises in looking after people who have just moved to the country and I’m to send him a copy of my *Australian* bank statement to prove my previous *Australian* address and he’ll look after my application and get me connected as soon as possible.

*massive sigh of relief*

We’ve been here almost a month now, trying to get our lives set up, and we did some research in advance to help make the bank situation not quite so dire as it might be, but it’s still been an informative experience.

I couldn’t find any stats on how many people move to London every year, but it must be tens of thousands. Tens of thousands of people having this terrible experience every year. I doubt it’s much better in other cities either.

Now, I know that there are issues that go well beyond ‘good experience’ that form the background of some of these examples, but this is no reason to just shrug our shoulders and say ‘well, that’s just the way it is’. These challenges create great opportunities for companies who are interested in good experience to differentiate themselves and capture market share (as well as making some stressed out people very happy!).

Creating good experience is a state of mind. Instead of seeing roadblocks like these as a reason to wash our hands of the responsibility for good experience, we should sit up, gather around, and workshop ways that we can turn bad experience to good.

It’s true for ‘real life’ experience like London banks and telcos, and it’s true for us as we design good experience online. Except instead of money laundering, consumer credit acts, and money laundering concerns, we have dodgy technical environments, aging hardware, and marketing departments.

It’s a challenge, yes, but that’s why we love it :)

Do you have any good ‘online’ examples where you (or others) have overcome a potential roadblock like this to achieve, against all odds, a good user experience?

Photo Credit: Phlzy at Flickr

5 thoughts on “the challenges of migrating & good experience design

  1. Ah, yes, welcome to England! I moved here from Australia five years ago and I still remember those same struggles!

    Good experiences: Almost none. Huge deposits required by everyone. Once you get an address and a bill from a utility company at that address things do become much easier. I tried many banks, the only one who’d take me were Citibank, on the Strand – seems they had encountered aliens from far-away lands before.

    The one positive was that the £100 British Gas deposit was refunded to me with 5% interest(!) at the end of the year. More than most savings accounts pay – if I’d known I might have given them a larger deposit! :-)

    Good luck with the rest of your administrivia!

  2. hey Lucy :)

    We don’t get to have any utilities bills as we ended up renting privately and the all the gas, water etc. is included in our rent.

    We’ve certainly shelled out a few deposits since we’ve been here tho… if we got 5% on all of them we’d be doing very well!

    Meanwhile, TeleWest have dropped the ball on my application… days later and a couple of mix ups, and I still haven’t had my application approved, so my potential installation date is being pushed further and further back…

    oh, I wish there was an UnWired or an iBurst around here somewhere!

  3. i did the nyc to london move about 6 years ago (and am in melb now so have done the big move a few times). i also remember those horrible days in london. i hope it’s changed but EVERYTHING was sooooo hard to get setup over there.

    royal bank of scotland was the one that didn’t seem to mind that i hadnt been in the city forever.

    and you can (or could) find owner rented flats instead of going thru agents. i ended up doing that and it was so much more pleasant (and sounds like you did too).

    good luck!! and try to find time to enjoy the place also! ;)

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