Stealing money with bad web design
Steve Krug wrote a book back in 2000 called Don’t Make Me Think! about how good design should make it as easy as possible to accomplish your task -- find a flight fast, book it, and be done. But there’s a dark side to “Don’t make me think,” which is the evil genius saying, “Shush, shush, my prey. Don’t think about it… just let go and let me take what I want.”
I’m talking about people who trick you into agreeing to something you didn’t know you agreed to. A web page that automatically opts you into an email list (which is then extremely complicated to get off of), or tricks you into buying some “upgrade” service you didn’t want.
The worst is getting me to agree to conditions that are either hidden in pages of Terms or so draconian that basically by buying your product I’m screwed. For example…
I booked my flight to Iceland on Priceline -- never saw a confirmation letter. Finally checked and it appears that I booked it for Monday not Sunday.
Now, I expected some kind of change fee -- but to replace my $1,400 ticket would have cost over $2,000. Which is ridiculous because I could buy a new round trip ticket for $1,200. Right. A new ticket directly from IcelandAir was less than the original ticket through Priceline.
So, I figured I'd just buy a one-way ticket and use the return portion of my first ticket. Except IcelandAir told me that if I don't use the first leg, they cancel the return ticket so I had to buy a round trip ticket.
I will never book a flight through Priceline again -- because I clicked on one thing wrong on a website, I was forced to buy an entirely new round trip ticket. Which is thievery. Intentional or not, there is no other word for it.
On the other hand, I once booked my return flight on Alaska Airlines for March 28 rather than February 28. The calendar skipped me forward a month, and March and February 28 were both on a Thursday. The woman at Alaska said, “Oh, that’s something I could have done -- I won’t charge you the change fee.” I even got 10 bucks back on the fare difference.
I will ALWAYS fly Alaska if I have the choice because they don’t just follow a script, they look at what caused the problem, not just the rules I fell into.
Even good design doesn’t replace the need for good customer service. Don’t Make me Think doesn’t just apply a cool design that lets me book my flight, it’s the entire experience. Don’t make me think about how to use your system, and don’t make me think when it comes to solving a problem. Because now you’re making me think, and making me angry when I’m already angry and frustrated.
Forcing me to do something I don’t want to do is wrong -- making it impossible for me to change my mind afterwards is heinously wrong.
So, don’t just build a kick-ass app that makes it easy to sell stuff. Build a kick-ass enterprise that makes it easy for your customers to buy something, get their product and then, easy to work with you when something goes wrong. Because something always goes wrong eventually, and that’s when you either make a loyal customer or an pissed-off enemy.