Monday, December 20, 2004

Bad UI experience of the day:
As an interface designer, I find myself getting seriously pissy when confronted with stupid interface decisions, whether online or in the real world. Christmas shopping online has certainly presented me with plenty of examples. For example, what is the point of Audible.com having wishlists if your friends and family can't view them? And don't get me started on wedding registries. Amazon and Target both, for example, tie a wedding wish list to one account and one account only, so that whoever sets it up is the only one who can maintain it. And then there's the ATM at my bank, which waits until you've entered your desired withdrawal to tell you that you can only pull money out today in multiples of $20. Or $50. It changes, you know. Not too bad, except that the "accept" and "cancel" button labels disappear on the second input screen, and if you want to actually make a withdrawal, you have to remember where they were.

But today's annoyance is more prosaic: The gas station down the road. I pick my pump, and, as usual, choose to pay at the pump. There's a red paper sign taped to the pump, saying "No reciepts available at this pump!", handprinted (which explains the misspelling) and cut into a festive starburst shape, as though this were an exciting new feature of this particular pump. Fine. I just end up wadding them up and throwing them away anyway.

So I fill my car and press the buttons to finish the transactions. As it is currently 11 degrees and windy, I decide to skip the carwash. Instead of a "transaction completed", though, I get "please see attendant". I am, at this point, about 90% sure that this is a standard error message, that the clerk is going to tell me everything's fine, ask if I need a receipt. But that 10% could bring a visit from the sheriff or a suspended license if I pull a gas and go, so I trudge into the store, and I wait in line, and, of course, I'm right. And the look on the clerk's face tells me that she's about as happy about it as I am, so there's not even the satisfaction of bitching.

And that's why you get to read about it, you lucky bastards.

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