Monday, May 9, 2011

Social media vs Usability

All I wanted to do was watch the latest episode of The Game of Thrones which just so happens to be airing on HBO. The episode is available on their online site: .  All you have to do is subscribe to the channel and then sign up for access to the site.

I had signed up previously and was able to get in and watch all of the latest shows and movies which made me happy as a subscriber (I felt I was getting more than I was paying for through my cable service). I also had a favorable impression of HBO since putting this access on line made it seem like they were 'with it'.

But then HBO went down the social media rabbit hole. They redesigned their Go site to include message boards and all sorts of social media communication. And apparently this redesign demanded that their loyal users re-register to have access to these options.

Really? Re-register?  What kind of lame-ass redesign was this?

They sent no emails letting you know of the changes. There was no way to opt out of using the social media features and continue as you had been.

You had to re-register.  So I did, desperate as I was to watch the latest Game of Thrones episode.

Seeing as this was a national company, a recognizable brand, I expected this process to go smoothly. I would be re-registered and watching the new show in no time.

20 minutes later, I was ready to cancel my subscription.

I had gone through the re-registration process only to be thwarted by the activation email link. When I clicked it, I was informed 'there was an error with your account'.

Really? What sort of error? There was no way to know if i had successfully re-registered or not as the statement gave no further feedback or a way to solve the issue.

So then I tried to log in. No dice. I knew my email hadn't changed but perhaps I had gotten a temporary password that I was unable to access? So I chose the 'forgot password' option but was then told that 'this feature is unavailable'.

I can only assume, at this point that the redesign caused some major technical difficulties on the back end as I still have yet to receive any communication from HBO.

I did email them though, using their web form. I filled out all the required fields and explained to them my issue with the site (there was no way to call them). The final straw? When I clicked 'submit', it erased all the text I had typed and the time delay between that action and the message informing me that my email had been sent was enough to make me panic and believe that I had just erased everything and would have to type it over.

HBO, you can NOT convince me that you did ANY user testing on this new design. Or maybe you did--in concept but not actual coded pages?  Either way, you are violating very important usability and design principles with this new site:

1. Never punish users for using your features; don't make them re-register
2. Time delay between 'submit' and displaying a confirmation message should be under 1 sec; don't leave the users time to question if their action went through.
3. Provide alternative ways to contact you (phone number??? tech support???)
4. Allow for mouse wheel scrolling (forgot to tell you that the new site REQUIRES the use of the scroll bar)
5. If a feature isn't ready for the real world, don't push it out and hope for the best.

Let's hope they get it fixed soon. Otherwise, my TiVo will be filled up in no time.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I dislike that they wanted to force the user to go by a variation of their real name, giving you three pre-populated options to choose from and no possibility of creating a screen name or alias. There were no privacy options mentioned, either.

So frustrating to jump through hoops when all you want to do is watch a movie.