Posted Thursday, September 23, 2004 5:15:47 PM by Zoe Gillenwater
A recent visit to the Motorola site made me realize how much usability really does matter and how much truth there is behind those old rules.
My mom needed a manual for her cell phone. Motorola had told her to go to their web site and download it, but she couldn't get it to work and asked for my help.
I went to www.motorola.com. Not being a Motorola owner (or a cell phone owner, for that matter), it was my first visit. The first place I looked for a link was along the top. They have three buttons along the top by their logo, but they were all corporate stuff. I then saw four buttons at the top right: At Home, At Work, In the Auto, On the Move. None of those cryptic buttons sounded right.
I finally spotted it: in a sidebar on the right (ironically labeled "Fast Find"), in tiny gray text on a gray-blue background, the words "Cell/Mobile Phones." I clicked. A list of phones popped up, and I scrolled through. None was what I wanted, so I clicked on "View all phones" at the bottom. Then I was presented with a list of countries that I had to select from, but instead of using a regular drop down list, it was a Flash-based widget with only an up and down arrow. So, I couldn't just grab the scroller, drag it to the bottom, and select United States. Instead, I had to hold the down arrow down until it finally got to the US. It only took 8 seconds, but when something takes 8 seconds that should have taken 0.5, we web users get mad.
After selecting US, I went to a US portal page where I had another box to select my phone from. Since my phone wasn't listed (turns out mom gave me a slightly wrong name), I hit back to try my luck on the home page again. I had to navigate through the Flash widget again. This time, I selected "Downloads," because I needed to download a user manual. It then presented a little graphic saying I could get my hands on games, ringtones, etc. Oops – this didn't sound like what I wanted. I wanted to go back and choose "Support" instead of "Downloads." But there was no way to get back! (Turns out the widget did have a back button, but I didn't see it all the way at the bottom.) I would have to hit refresh, scroll through that list of phones again, then select "Support." After selecting support, I had to select US again. Guess where it sends me? The same US portal site as before, not the support page! So, I had to search around on that page and select Support, even though I told it back on the home page that I wanted support. Talk about unneccessary clicks.
Now forced to use IE, I attempted to locate my mom's cell phone in the list. It wasn't there. After looking a few more times, I finally spotted it. Her cell phone, 280, was not at the top of the list with the other numerical phones. It was stuck in the middle of a bunch of phones starting with V. Why? Who knows. Motorola apparently doesn't know how to alphabetize either.
The whole process was protracted and difficult – and I'm a web designer who knows my way around a site! Web developers, I beseech you – don't do this to your customers.
Category tags: Designing for the Web