British Airways security update stops ticket sales

I just logged into my BA account to book a ticket, but BA does not want my business because they have implemented new security without thinking about the impact on users.

After making my selection I’m shown the page below instead of a flight selection page. I could understand getting this if I’m not logged in, but I am so I have already authenticated my session. But there is no excuse for sending me to a blank screen, my firewall does not block Captcha, I know this for a fact.

When was this tested or has it gone up today without being tested, who knows?

—- A few minutes of testing later …

I have now managed to get it working and BA have fallen for the classic developer problem, the new security page has been developed on FireFox with Internet Explorer an after thought. The Captcha loads in FireFox but does not in IE.

Now here is a description of one of the worst user experiences possible;

  • In FireFox I first log into my account, I’m in they know who I am.
  • Then I do my search selection.
  • I get the Captcha page fill it out, great I’m in my results
  • Now the clear thing is and everyone who books travel online know is that (sorry back now, I was in Heathrow and had to get my flight, ironic that I was in the BA lounge trying to buy a ticket but being stopped by poor usability) searching and finding are two different experiences.
  1. The British Airways flight search tool has always been bad as it does not cross link results e.g. Date, Location, Tier unless you search again, this is because the person who designed it does not think like a passenger. Potential passengers want to get somewhere, that is their first requirement, not to select class of travel. If you want a good standard look at EasyJet flight search, if you can forget all the other painful experiences and thinking the search is really very good.
  2. Now some bright spark at BA has looked at the log statistics and thought we are getting lots of drop outs and re-searching, this could be a denial of service attack, it’s not, it is in fact the only way to find flights.
  • So my results only show me one class of flight, to see the other ones I have to search again, if I do I get Captcha again and again and again as I try and cross relate the various sets of results to get the best deal, that gets me where I need to get, when I need to get there.
  • Really, really painful experience, oh and I still have not booked a ticket because I was so angry at my treatment, I gave up.

What to do next?

  1. Sack someone, really, they made my evening hell!
  2. Hire a User Experience Architect (must be technical as they will lead the IT part too, so not a graphic designer) who will tell you how to redesign your search results and change how the back end IT works.
British Airways website security upgrade stops ticket sales
British Airways website security upgrade stops ticket sales
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Interflora discount voucher 100% no brains

When doing marketing, companies are attempting to motivate people into a relationship with their products or services, in this respect Interflora have been very successful, I am highly motivated. Unfortunately because Interflora’s service is so bad, my relationship is one I don’t want to have, so my motivation is to STOP 60070 them from contacting me.

You would think that after I spoke with someone in a senior position at Interflora they would get beyond lip service and actually act on my bad experience of them as a company rather than do nothing. In fact worse they sent more SPAM to my mobile this morning, Mothers Day discount flower voucher (15% I don’t care if it’s 50% or 75%), useless to me as I will never use their services again, ever.

See http://karlsmith.info/user-experience-ux/interflora-dont-listen-or-care-about-user-experience/ for the reason for all this. But today I got another text message from Interflora, they obviously don’t care in the slightest about their reputation. Digital communications are a two way process a failure to listen points to incompetence in management and delivery.

Since they are not responding, every time they send me mobile SPAM or post me their marketing materials, I will post about it until these posts take over the top listings on the search engine’s.

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O2 support has awful usability

O2 gets points for trying

I like other users were quite happy when O2 decided to spend some time and money to tie together their various online systems to at least give the appearance of a unified system. You can tell it’s all user experience and no information architecture though, everything links so there are no dead ends, unfortunately the information being sought is missing it’s an annoying merry go round.

Lucy help box in O2O2 fakes live support

The thing that I cannot think of an excuse for is an automated support search tool built to look like live support. Dear Lucy you gave me hope, then you took it away, you made me think O2 cared about me and the business I bring them. But no your not real your a search tool, that’s not really all that good. Changing interactive and interaction metaphors is indeed very brave and extraordinarily stupid as it aggravates users. For users in a support system the normal response is to look for another service supplier or phone up to vent on someone.

Still at least there was a feedback form for me to say how pathetic the experience was. Feedback form for fake live support

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12 #UX things you need to know

Getting into user experience, what you need to know?

What will a person need to be able to do to get into user experience;

1. Can you think?

Not the most subtle way to ask, but can you be creative? Thinking at the beginning of a project can save a huge amount of money and time later, but many user experience people blast their way into a project by starting on wireframes, without knowing what they are doing.

A huge amount of user experience simply is not user experience, its pretty pictures with poor justifications ‘it’s best practice’ my usual response is ‘prove that it’s best practice’.

2. Can you find things out?

Do you have a critical mind, can you work out what is missing from the information you have been given.

A project requires a bit of detective work because there are always gaps in the information provided to user experience, mainly because clients and IT don’t know what to provide or what is provided has had the juicy bits (outlier views) removed because clients and IT don’t know they are important.

3. Are you objective?

Having a strong opinion on user experience is really important, but it must always be tempered with an open non judgemental attitude. Are you willing to be changed by what your client, users or IT people know?

User experience people are not the gate keepers of an absolute set of rules, we have two ears and one mouth, we should listen twice as much as we speak.

4. Can you discern Fact from Fiction?

Again talking with clients, users or IT people can be pretty confusing unless you can work out if what they are talking about is still within the boundaries and various time lines of the project. A quick guide;

  • Clients tend to talk about the desired end state
  • Users tend to talk about any snippets they have heard about the project or their hopes for it
  • IT tends to take the pragmatic approach by thinking ‘what can we really deliver’

They are all true or were true at some point, or may be true if we had more time and money etc.

5. Can you deal with the politics?

Can you avoid taking sides in the various feuds that were going on before you got there and not flame the fires of distrust between business and IT.

6. Will you understand the business you are serving?

Your in a service relationship with the business, helping them get past their assumptions about their users and giving them some facts to act upon.

7. Will you understand the users you are serving?

Your in a service relationship with the users, helping them get what they need and desire.

8. Can you test – concepts, theories, business thinking, user perceptions etc?

Your going to need a lot of guts to question other peoples thinking.

User experience people reserve the right to ask stupid questions, in order to avoid doing stupid things, by Karl Smith 1999.

I’ve been saying this since 1999, I say it on every project.

9. Can you seek validation?

The user experience person is not right, they can come up with concepts and questions but a user experience person never decides they are right, they must check out what they do with other people. Often this process of seeking validation reveals more information and opens door to previously inaccessible people.

10. Can you communicate – findings and concepts?

Can you talk to people and provide information to them in a digestible way? The best way to work is to not use jargon, not assume that people understand anything especially verbal references to famous people or design principals.

You need to be able to package your information in the users and stakeholders own verbal environment, so that they recognise and understand it when they hear it.

11. Can you understand and benefit from the project teams expertise?

Do you know what other people on the project do? For example do you know enough about technology to carry out research with developers to pre-scope extra user requirements.

Can you cope with the give and take that happens during development and know which things to fight for?

12. Finally do you keep your common sense active?

Can you spot a non sensible request, a great example of this was NASA spending $1,000,000 on a pen that would work in space, while Roscosmos (USSR) gave their astronauts a pencil. Can you give a reasoned non personalised argument for not doing something?

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