Pay At The Pump (For Poor Design)

I don’t know what it is, but something about poorly planned designs just make me frustrated.

I was filling up at a gas station over the weekend and was prompted with the question, “Is this Debit? (Yes/No)”

Seemed simple enough. Instinctively, I looked for a button labeled Yes. Mentally, I pictured the button being, green in color next to a red button labeled No… Even without color-coding, though, it’s usually, say, on the bottom right of your list of options.

I stood there for a good 30-seconds feeling stupid, though. There was no Yes button to choose from. The closest I found were two buttons that were a bit more specific… One said Receipt Yes and the other was Receipt No. I think I actually died a little on the inside… In the end, hitting Debit Card Outside got me through the prompt.

That’s so retarded. Honestly. Wouldn’t it make so much more sense to just have a generic Yes/No set of buttons? I’d press ‘Yes’ when asked if it was a Debit Card. I’d press ‘No’ when asked if I wanted a receipt. And though this place didn’t have a car wash, I’d press ‘No’ for that if they asked me about that. That would make it all quick and to the point. Obviously some people understand this, because I’ve been to some gas stations where their pumps are incredibly simple to use — everything works just as I’d expect it to.

Then there are all of the non-standard operations of the pumps… For some, you must lift the pump cradle up to begin the gas. Others require you push a Start button, which — of course — rarely even looks like a button. This is where designers and users differ immensely. A designer working on this project probably decided that some “action” needed to trigger some other set of processes… A user, though, is some schmuck like me that just wants to fuel up their car. Let’s get rid of this “start” ritual… Taking the nozzle out of the cradle should designate the start of the operation. Putting it back into the cradle designates the end of the operation. With the exception of pumps with a pay-first policy, you should be able to swipe your card at the beginning or end of the transaction. Maybe need to refine the logic slightly for choosing which fuel grade, but you get the idea…

Interfaces like at this gas station, though, annoy me almost as much as the rare times I need to use an ATM. Every time I use one of those things, I find myself hesitating a bit more than I should because it’s not very clear on some of them just which arrow button I’m supposed to push for my desired result. It makes me feel dumb. Generally, that’s just not the feeling you want to leave people with when they use your product.

Those are all just sort of annoying issues, though. The worst is when bad designs actually to kind of scary stuff.

I was on Walmart’s site not too long ago buying a Christmas present for someone. It had been ages since I had ordered off their site, so I wasn’t sure of my login info when it asked me for that. [As a side note, I hate having to set up an account with places I’m probably never going to use again.] After a couple guesses at my login information, I gave up and created a new account. I went through the typical form fields — entering in my name, postal address, email address, favorite color, and number of socks in my laundry basket. After entering in all of that and clicking “Submit”, it tells me that the account already existed and then asks me if I wanted to use the credit card that was on file with them. You’ve got to be kidding me!

I don’t know what sort of logic it was and what type of criteria you must meet in order for it to do that, but it really caught me off-guard. The more I thought of it, the more in disbelief I was.

I suppose it’s convenient, yeah, but why not just offer a dang “Forgot Your Password?” option or something? Really, though, the issue goes deeper than that.

For any site that stores logins for their “store”, what really needs to happen is that they should look up email addresses put into the system as soon as possible. Before the person wastes their time putting in a bunch of information, be nice and see if you already have that info. If you do, great… And I’m sort of tempted to suggest the reverse as well… Look up their name and address and see if maybe they already registered but used a different address. In the former case, you can simply allow them to verify their shipping/billing info once they provide the correct password. With the latter case, you can prompt to either create a new account like they were doing or log in using the old account info and update that to reflect the current contact info.

I don’t know… Either way, I don’t like it when sites that I rarely use cache my credit card info in their system without making it blatantly obvious to me. For sites like Amazon, I love it. It makes check out a breeze.

I guess in a perfect world, though, sites would let you make an account and control what gets saved and what doesn’t OR would let you place your order without an account… Either way, though, it needs to be quick and painless… The last thing I want to do is to be looking for the dang Yes button on some site…

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