While trying to buy a pair of shoes from Reebok.com, I ran into a pretty clunky user experience for the mid-purchase suddenly out of stock use case. Here’s what happened: I added a pair of shoes to my cart and then was shown an error message.
Unfortunately for me, someone must have beat me to the last remaining pair of this specific type of shoe at this specific size. This is fine and boilerplate e-commerce. Happens all the time. But how would Reebok.com design the user experience for me?
A bit clunky I’d say. In the top of the page, I see an error message saying that one or more items … are no longer unavailable and that I should check my cart contents before continuing. This page isn’t too clear because according to the top of the page there’s a problem with an item in my cart and according to the bottom part of the page there are no products in my cart.
Sure, I understand that the reason why the item was taken out was because it became out of stock, but let’s see how this use case can be improved. For one, we can have the error message be more specific and tell me specifically which item became suddenly out of stock – as opposed to the more generic “one or more” catch-all. Second, it would be very beneficial for Reebok’s conversion if they pointed me to similar shoes to the one that suddenly became out of stock. From browsing their site, I know that they already have this feature built out — so they just need to invoke it here. If they can make those two changes, this clunky experience of losing out on a pair of shoes you really wanted can be improved and thus improve their end-to-end conversion.
Email marketing is a strong piece of the backbone of any consumer internet product. Recently, I went through the email unsubscribe flow of a couple of my favorite products: Sosh and Zipcar. While going through the respective flows, I noticed that one was a lot more user-friendly than the other. Let’s take a look.
As shown above, the Sosh flow is a simple one step process with a CTA in the email followed up with a confirmation screen on the Sosh site. In contrast, Zipcar requires the user to first login before they are able to unsubscribe.
The Zipcar user experience is clearly less user friendly. But is this so bad? The advantage of the Zipcar approach is that they are creating more work for a user who wishes to unsubscribe and thus decreasing the amount of users who unsubscribe. However, this could be problematic. When a user goes to unsubscribe from a marketing email, they already have a semi-sour taste in their mouths about that product. When you create another (in their view) unnecessary hurdle in order to get them to perform this action, that semi-sour taste might turn into full blown disappointment and anger toward your product. Furthermore, the user can “punish” the company by going to their email client (i.e. Gmail) and marking the marketing email as spam. This may cause future marketing emails (even those sent to users who want to receive such emails) to be more likely to be marked as spam by the email client.
Noticed a bug while looking through my friend Joseph’s list of friends on Facebook.
Here’s what I’m shown first when I go to browse his friends. As expected, I see his list of friends sorted alphabetically and I’m shown the friends at the top of that list.
After scrolling through the list, I encounter one of my other good friends Tom:
…and I click through to view his timeline:
When I’m done viewing his timeline, I touched the “friends of Joseph” menu item in the top left section of the page. As a user, my expectation was to be taken back to Joseph’s friend list at the exat spot where I originally selected – namely the T’s where Tom’s name exist. However, I am taken back to the top of the list:
I was getting ready for a cross-country flight and decided to download a movie to watch. After I selected the movie and made the purchase, I was presented with the error message below.
This error state was quite the unpleasant surprise and exposed two potential points of improvement for this flow.
(1) I was allowed to make the purchase before I received the actual product. Ideally, the user would be warned that they do not have enough storage on their device to download the movie now so that he/she can decide to back out at that point. Getting the error message after the purchasing commitment opens the possibility of paying for something that you will not be able to consume now.
(2) Assuming the business case of letting the user get this far before warning them is more important than the user unfriendliness of this design, there is one way that this error message can be improved. The user needs to be told exactly how much extra storage is necessary to continue the download. For the message above, touching OK does nothing but take you back to the screen you were on, and touching Settings takes you here:
At this point, I had no idea how large the movie file was and how much extra storage I needed to free up on my device. Knowing that I had a back-up of my mp3s on my laptop, I just started deleting songs from my phone – one album at a time – and kept checking back into the download screen to see if I had enough free storage. This was a very manual process and finally at a certain point, I was able to start the download as can be seen below.
Zaarly is a local marketplace that brings producers of local goods and services together with consumers of their products and services. I’ve used the product a couple of times and like what I see so far. Here’s a tiny glitch I uncovered when testing their Facebook sign-up flow.
When you click on Log in with your Facebook profile, you are taken to a Facebook login page.
Here, if you click on the cancel button, your expectation would be to go back to the Zaarly sign-up page shown above. Unfortunately, you are taken to the following error page:
It should be noted that the content on this 404 page is superb:
We promise we tried, but we called back the search party because they were getting hungry.
Recently, I purchased a ticket to a concert on Eventbrite. Here is the order confirmation page:
I was not pleased to find the following message on the order confirmation page:
By purchasing a ticket, you will also receive weekly email blasts from Ruby Skye about upcoming events, guest lists and more.
The reason why this message irked me is because it was never shown at any point prior in the purchase flow. The user was never properly warned that a purchase would result in this added consequence of having their email added to a mailing list. Sure, at the end of the day, it’s not a huge deal and I can eventually get out of it with a simple unsubscribe. But that’s a waste of the user’s time — not to mention that this technique of acquiring emails is dishonest and not customer centric.
Seems like everywhere you look these days, users are given an opportunity to share something via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Digg, StumbleUpon, and the list goes on an on. While it may be a bit overboard to offer sharing via so many different channels, offering sharing across Facebook and Twitter can be quite beneficial to a product.
One area where sharing would be a logical fit would be across content sites such as espn.com. On their mobile site, they have a video module that typically had 3 videos that can be selected to be viewed.
After clicking through, you are usually shown an ad and then the video.
When the video concludes, you are taken to a video center page that shows you what video you just watched and asks you if you want to watch any more videos.
At this point, this would be a GREAT opportunity for ESPN to offer the user the ability to share the video via Facebook or Twitter. This is no different than ESPN asking users to share articles via social channels. Except such a medium (video) may even have a more effective conversion rate of bringing new users back to the site.
Here’s a prompt from Adobe that asks me to update the Flash Player on my MacBook Pro:
In general, I’m used to an application informing me that a new version is available and I should download the update just because. What I like about this prompt is that I am reminded as to what exactly this software is used for and how it can benefit me. I’m sure such a technique has a significant positive impact on update conversion.
Recently, I noticed an interesting text message alert from Facebook. The primary purpose of the text was to inform me that I had a pending friend request. In addition, the text issued a warning that since I hadn’t responded via text to Facebook recently, then I will stop getting text alerts.
Fair enough. It’s a reasonable explanation to turn off text alerts if the user is not interacting with the feature. But what was interesting for me was just how long would Facebook be willing to keep sending such text warnings before pulling the plug.
A couple of weeks came and went with no text alerts from Facebook. Amazingly, 25 days after the text above, I received another text from Facebook! This time, the warning was that since it had been 111 days since receiving my last text, Facebook may stop sending me text alerts.
So to make a long story short, Facebook is willing to wait at least 111 days before ceasing text messages. I find this to be an extremely long time. Especially since Facebook already gave me a warning at the 86 day point. Ideally, the algorithm that determines how long to continue sending texts to the user should not only be based on how many days it has been since last interaction, but also how many warnings the user decided to ignore.
Found an tiny glitch in Gmail. When you access a draft reply of an email conversation already inside your inbox via the Drafts folder, Gmail incorrectly offers you the call to action to move the conversation to the inbox. Let’s take a look:
1. Start with an email that is part of a Gmail thread that currently resides in your Inbox. As you can see, the top level CTAs offer you to archive the thread, mark it as spam, and send it to the trash, along with some other CTAs as well.
2. Click on Reply to start a reply thread. The top level CTAs remain the same.
3. After the web app auto-saves your draft, wonder over to the left side-bar menu and click on the Drafts link. From here, find your draft reply and click and open the thread.
4. Here’s the interesting part. Instead of having the same top level CTAs as before (archive, spam, and trash), now the user is given the option to move the thread to the inbox. This is a bit strange as the thread is already in the Inbox. Ideally, Gmail should correctly differentiate between threads currently in and out of the Inbox and offer the correct top-level CTAs.