Will someone please think of the user?

12 12 2006

Recently I was in the market for a DVD burner since my laptop has just a regular DVD ROM. For flexibility, I was looking at buying an external USB 2.0 burner. This would nicely complement the external 250G hard drive that I had also just purchased for backup purposes. After hunting around in the usual places – Amazon, Fatwallet, eBay, TigerDirect etc. – I found a good deal with free shipping on NewEgg. That’s where all the troubles started…

Firstly, the site won’t work with Firefox. After adding the item to the cart I could not create an account nor enter my details for checkout. The worst thing is that there is no error message as well. In this day and age, how hard is it to make a website that works with at least the #2 browser? So I switched to the IETab extension, which allows you to open any page in IE within Firefox. This refused to work as well.

So I had to open up IE and go through the whole rigmarole from scratch. The (newegg) gods must have been in a good mood at that time since I managed to proceed, create an account and actually get to the Payment options page.

  • This page presents a plethora of options (Credit card, PayPal, Money Order, NewEgg credit etc.) all assembled together in the most confusing way possible.
  • You can use PayPal, but the email addresses in your NewEgg and PayPal accounts must match; they don’t inform you of this requirement when you register for an account. There’s no way of specifying an existing PayPal account.
  • They accept credit cards (hallelujah), but need the 1-800 customer service for “card verification”.
  • There are tons of other minor annoyances with the entire checkout flow and presentation.

I understand most people who visit and purchase from NewEgg and its ilk are looking for a deal and don’t mind jumping through a few extra hoops to do so. My first experience has left a sour taste though, and I won’t be buying from them again, unless there’s a really good deal of course 🙂

This really seems like Product and UED 101 (I wonder, is there such a course that’s taught anywhere? If not it should be, but I digress…), especially for checkout, which is very much a solved problem in the e-commerce world.

In an ideal world, potential customers should be treated equal to existing customers. Most (there are always notable exceptions) companies offer preferential treatment to potential customers via snazzy brochures, aggressive marketing, sales talks, while doing the minimum to keep the existing customer base satisfied and loyal. NewEgg seems to subscribe to the opposite philosophy – treat potential customers as badly as possible; if they still get through, then they are going to be loyal anyways and we don’t have to work any harder.


First impressions leave lasting impressions

Make the user experience as seamless and as simple as possible

Every user interaction with your product is an opportunity to acquire a customer, or increase loyalty




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