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5 Examples of Bad UX from Major Brands

February 5, 2014

As I go throughout my day, using various web-based services to live my life, I take note of the times when a design flaw causes me frustration. Here are five examples of bad UX from large companies that should know better. In most cases, just a little bit more thought could have improved the user experience.

TurboTax

On Monday, I went to TurboTax.com to work on my taxes. As you can see, the “Watch our Super Bowl ad” panel demands visual attention while the “Start” or “Sign In” buttons below are not accessible. I wasn’t here to watch the ads again. Further, watching super bowl ads is not the primary use case for users of TurboTax. I know their intent: they were prepared for the people who want to watch the ads again, but why should they do it at the expense of users who want to pay them for their service?

TurboTax-bad-ux-SuperBowl

I realize there is a “Sign In” button in the top nav but I had been accustomed to using the buttons below. My muscle memory kicked in and I had to stop and think. What’s worse, even after I click “Hide” on the super bowl panel, the site doesn’t remember. The next time you visit, you have to collapse that panel all over again.

The simplest solution to this problem is to not disable the buttons below and remember when the users have hidden the panel. But I would prefer they make the ad panel much smaller or have promoted a different landing page url during the game.

AMC Theatres

Today (Wednesday) I was making plans for the weekend and wanted to purchase advance tickets for a movie on Saturday. Since we got a big blanket of snow last night, the theatre was closed due to weather. As a result, the online system for my local theatre had also been shut down. I couldn’t buy tickets for a show on Saturday because the theatre was closed today. A little forethought could fix this problem. Just because the theatre is closed today doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to purchase tickets for a future date.

amc-theatre-bad-ux-weather-closed

Amtrak

A few weeks ago I was booking a trip on Amtrak and was presented with my ticketing options. The pricing and the subsequent comparison of the levels of service is puzzling. Business class is nearly half the cost of coach? The only difference between Value and Flexible is the price? Business class offers refundable rooms, although rooms were not available on this train, which seems to make every level of service the same. And “Flexible” isn’t actually as flexible as business class. I’d guess this is a problem with the rules a computer is using to decide what to show or it always shows the same information even if it doesn’t make sense. But overall, AmTrak isn’t showing enough information here for users to be able to make a good decision.

amtrak-bad-ux-service-levels

Chase

Recently I wanted to add an external bank account to my Chase account and I had to verify my identity by entering my driver’s license number. As you can see, the system wasn’t happy that I entered the number the way it appears on my license: with dashes. It’s unfortunate that a company like Chase with an advanced online banking system doesn’t have a simple way to check for and/or remove characters that are commonly found on ID cards. Spaces, hyphens, dashes – actually, they could just remove every special character and only process the alphanumeric. This is a classic example of forcing the user to do it your way. I see this all the time with phone numbers, passwords, and even comment forms. Learn the common ways that users enter data and do your best to work with them.

chase-bank-bad-ux-account-spaces

Republic Services

I always pay my trash bill online. Every month when I get to this view, I dutifully fill in the account number and zip code, then promptly click “Exit Just Pay It” – why? Because it’s longer (bigger), it’s on the right, and it’s visually the same as the Continue button. Never mind that I have never heard of “Just Pay It,” which is the brand name of their online payment provider. Isn’t this supposed to be Republic Services? Plus, “Exit Just Pay It” looks an awful lot like “Just Pay It” or “Pay” when you’re in a hurry.

republic-services-bad-ux-bill-pay

This is a pet peeve of mine. The primary use button should always stand out compared to other buttons. I usually recommend making Cancel or Back buttons gray, smaller, out of the way, or just simple text links. The thing you want people to do most often should be bigger, attract attention, and be easy to click.

Many of these problems could have avoided by the designers and developers taking the time to see the application from the perspective of the user. Bad UX happens all the time. Let’s take the time to design systems that create the best possible user experience!