Mandatory Form Filling on Meetup.com

It’s a nice sunny Sunday morning, and like most Sunday mornings (for those of us who tend not to have much of a lie in) it’s a great time for doing the things you don’t get to do during the week because of work. I decided that before I continue working on my Astronomy dissertation this morning for my Certificate in Astronomy course I would join some User Experience and Tech based meet ups on Meetup.com. This is so I can not only add to my continuous learning but also become involved in the social aspect. I already have a Meetup account for various other meet ups I’m a member of, and generally joining a meet up is an easy process, you find the one you want and you click to join. I searched for User Experience in London and I came across several I was interested in and joined. Most were, as described a ‘one button click’ process. However, there were two in particular that present you with a bunch of profile questions to answer before you can join. This is a massive pet peeve of mine, not only that it is a poor User Experience but it also is a massive barrier to entry. I’m a firm believer that you should let people in, have a look around and then present questions in an unobtrusive manner (i.e don’t pop out at you in a modal dialog) so they can have a think and answer in their own time. In my own experience, I felt as if the questions were sprung on me, they didn’t make a lot of sense and I...

Amazon MP3

Last Thursday, Nina and I were looking for music for our Playing with Justice Concert. After determining the set list, we decided to purchase them from the Amazon MP3 website. This is by far the worst place I have ever purchased music. Firstly, the download failed. Ok no big deal, that kind of stuff happens all the time. Was there an option to re-download though? No! After spending ages searching to re-find the download option, we had to contact the Amazon customer services, who then ‘reactivated’ the link. Tried a second time, download fails again, re-download link no longer available. Contacted them the third time, this time only 2 out of the 8 songs purchased downloaded and the link once again de-activated. At this point, I decided to give up and download from iTunes. This is a major flaw in their system design as it does not count for download failure. There is no mechanism in place that allows you to track whether the download was successful or not (not even their player) and therefore ensuring the download link is not disabled. This is such a waste of Oxfam money and I won’t be using their store again. I’ll stick to iTunes...

Natural Balance Foods Website

As I’m on a bit of a health food obsession at the moment, I went onto the Natural Balance Foods website and presented with the website I think overall it is pretty good. The background image doesn’t interfere with the text or the information. The menus and options are clear and the user experience is generally good as you are able to find all the information you need: I only have 2 qualms with the website. The first is that it takes forever to place the order, sending information back is such a slow process. The second is the inconsitency of the field layout for the start date and expiry date of the credit card details (as shown below): This really threw me. Other than those 2 issues I quite like the web site...

MGMT Website

As fantastic as MGMT are as a band, and it’s a pretty cool idea trying to engage their fans into designing their website. There are some really cool pictures and art work people have come up with, however this isn’t very practical and from a usabilty perspective is very poor! You visit the home page and are presented with the following page:  Although the image isn’t too bad, it’s still fairly noisy and makes text difficult to read, especially when you are looking at events (which has the same background) for concert dates. As this is the most important aspect of a band’s site, the information should not be difficult to read. You move away to the ‘Music’ part of the website, and boy is this an eye sore. You would probably get eye strain from trying to read what’s on there and the whole fan art aspect of it means that the site is inconsistent. If you then move on to the ‘fan art’ section you are presented with a gallery of art people have uploaded, by selecting you can change the backdrop….great….however there is no option (or easy way if there is an option) of turning off the fan art element of the site. Yes it’s a nice concept but it makes for a very poor user...