Saturday, January 20, 2007

We Need Macrodesigners

The business case for bad usability? ...

"Once upon a time I used to focus my efforts on helping my clients create great user experiences. I even wrote a Masters level thesis on User Interfaces and the user experience. Somewhere along the way, I realized that my real passion was in marketing - but those days of architecting usable interfaces comes in handy all the time now. As I review sites, as I help clients promote their online properties, the quality of the user interface still plays a big role. Yet one of the truths that I learned early on was that there are many moments where what a business wants an interface to do is in direct contrast to what a user may want. The most obvious example is an airline ticket site, where a user goal is often to find the cheapest flight from point A to point B. The business goal, of course, is to sell the ticket at the highest price. This is the nature of business vs. user conflicts.

As Internet users, we may complain about a particular user interface, but what many of us don't realize is that some of these less usable interface choices may be done intentionally. For those wondering how such a situation could be possible, here are just a few ways that some user interfaces suck on purpose and why:

1. Preventing core functionality if it loses money - There are always going to be activities online that lose you money. For insurance companies, unfortunately those activities coincide with what customers are often asking for ... payouts in relation to medical expenses. Aetna (a major US health insurance provider) has one of the most robust online client centers around. You can check account balances, see all the payments they have made on your behalf, choose doctors and read health content. Yet the one thing you can't do is submit a claim online - that requires you to print a form with tiny lettering, fill it out and physically mail it to a PO Box. Manufacturer's rebates are the same way. In both cases, these functions could be offered online - but it just doesn't pay to make it too easy."    (Continued via Influential Interactive Marketing)    [Usability Resources]


Blogger Mark said...

I am not really sure what happened here, but aside from the title ("We need macrodesigners"), I have nothing to do with the content of this post, and didn't write or re-post anything of this nature. Could you please correct?

Putting People First

6:56 AM  
Blogger Usernomics said...

Sorry Mark. Wrong attribution. It has been fixed.

7:04 AM  

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