Monday, August 16, 2010

Other random krag...

I'm always on the lookout for interesting examples/tidbits of user experience failures. Mostly I feel like I should have some interesting examples to use when I give talks.

Here are some I've stumbled across in the past month or so. Not much analysis, just want to post them for my own notes.

The Name Game

What's in a name? What is the link between name and online identity? Users can have many goals behind their choice of "name" they use as their online handle/moniker. Do they want authenticity? Authority? Anonymity? Odds are they have different names for different goals. That's why getting the player's name right is important.

And getting it wrong can be a costly mistake...

Social/Casual Games and Popups

Games are all about players making decisions -- and then getting feedback on their decisions. Lather, rinse, repeat. Some games make it unduly hard for players to simply make a choice.

Not enough primary and secondary buttons here, are there... First I feel the pain in my eyes, then my brain, then back in my eyes again.

Let's Give Away Money -- People Should Love That

My wife's aunt posted this, but I'm sure she wasn't the only one:

She's a pretty typical FarmVille player. I wonder how many CS tickets have the title "user doesn't understand how to use FB Credits". I'll bet that the typical user doesn't know whether to contact Zynga or Facebook to solve the problem which can lead to further frustration if you end up contacting the wrong CS support (and add extra cost to the non-responsible party).

Anyhow, back to work!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blizzard Boofdown? It can happen...

Was trying to figure out a way to kill a few hours and remembered that I'd tried the StarCraft II beta and figured I should pick up the retail version. I'm not a competitive RTS player, but I fondly remember the single player campaign from the original and have been looking forward to doing some PC gaming after messing around with the Lego Universe MMO a bit a week or so ago.

I figured that the easiest way to purchase StarCraft II would be to simply launch my beta version... The game would present me with an upsell message and I'd start downloading the diff'd files via some sort of cool patching system.


I got this informative message instead:

Huh. Big missed opportunity for an easy sale here.

Then I figured I'd just go to and sadly, I got the following screen when I clicked "Digital Download":

I'm assuming that a few customer service tickets are being generated here...

To be fair, the site was entirely down -- there was no way to authenticate me as a user and have the website "intelligently" notice my purchase intention and ask me whether I wanted to be emailed/text messaged/etc when the site went back up so I could continue with my purchase.

However, such a bland and generic message is really disheartening to a user. Sure, the fact that the site is down means that some catastrophic error has occurred making it impossible to provide useful information like a time estimate as to when the site will be back online.

However, a simple time and date stamp -- with a notification of when the next update will occur (I imagine something like 15-30 mins) would go a lot further than this bland admonition.

Moreover, if you can post a page, you can certainly post some interesting links to other working content. Why not drive all this traffic somewhere useful where you can provide interesting distractions, build customer loyalty, and maybe even turn it into an opportunity for monetization.

Anyhow, criticizing Blizzard is like criticizing Valve... They've got a pretty sweet setup, a fanatically loyal paying customer base, and can afford missed opportunities like these as people will step over their ailing grandmothers to get their hands on new content. Just seems like a shame.