Hello Tomorrow is the name of the latest intriguing campaign from Emirates airlines. Ironically it is practically impossible to say Goodbye to their email newsletter. Clicking on the ‘unsubscribe’ link brings you to a page on the Emitates web site that asks you to login with your email address, first name and surname. All of which are compulsory and need to be entered exactly. Surely they could detect that you are accessing the unsubscribe page from the email inbox that is subscribed to the newsletter in the first place? Oh no, that’d be too easy. Upon successfully logging in, you not only have to untick the items you wish to unsubscribe from but you also have to tick an additional ‘unsubscribe from all Emirates emails’ check box. Frustrated yet? The final step is to enter an annoying captcha. If Emirates want to retain subscribers they would be well advised to drop the onerous process and replace it with a polite and more human question such as “Are you sure you wanna go? We will miss you".
In some of the more user-focused companies I have worked with, UX has had input into things outside its immediate realm such as advertising campaigns or product packaging. I’ve already discussed how UX can lend all-important practicality to such things. More often than not however the product manager or the marketing team have the final say and can overrule UX input. I have seen this happen even after escalation to senior management. Admittedly strong leadership is important. Products need to meet launch deadlines and budgets but nonetheless, many products have gone to market with known issues that detrimentally affect the customer experience. There are many ways for you as a UXer to counteract this. Traditionally I would have advised you to foster good relations with the decision holders, be assertive in a constructive fashion, be clear about the impact of an issue and try to quantify it in language that they will understand e.g. more customer support calls. Unfortunately this is not always easy to do. But I need to ask a critical question at this point. Is it not unreasonable nowadays to expect that they should just ‘get it’, especially given the patency of why devices like the iPad are so successful? The intangible, the x-factor, that je-ne-sais-quoi is often what people value or cherish most. How would you quantify the love between two people in percentages and flow charts? If you love your products and your customers then UX is the answer.
While withdrawing cash from a machine in Amsterdam recently I suddenly realised the importance of designing for people that speak, or do not speak, different languages. This is especially the case in a city such as Amsterdam that us overflowing with tourists and ex pats who work there, such as my good self. For example, ING bank machines do not offer the domestic card holder a choice of language. All instruction appears in Dutch. Fair enough you might say, if you insert a Dutch bank card you get Dutch instructions. But the card holder might not speak Dutch. When it comes to pin entry there is an image of a hand pressing numbers but no other prompt for you to begin entering the digits. This image caused me to delay slightly because it looked like it was simply advising me to shield my pin. I was waiting for something more unequivocal to prompt my action. A blinking cursor would have done the job. Or maybe four dots representing my pin number to encourage me to start typing. Should I just stop complaining about little things and go learn Dutch?
I'm Frank Gaine. Strategist, Designer, Manager, Founder, Educator.