Suck Less | A Plea For User-Centric Design: Powered By You!

SlicesAnalysts, honestly, make the world go round when it comes to any successful business – yes, data is that important. As you might expect from any role, they also make a handful of important mistakes. I've written about the biggest mistake web analysts make.

Today's post is an adjacent mistake: The cardinal sin of spending too much time with data and in reports!

Wait. What?

Yes, I worry that Analysts, and Marketers, are spending too much time with their head buried in custom reports and advance segments and smart calculated metrics and strategic or tactical dashboards. Yes. They are all things I love and have repeatedly asked you to care for. But, perhaps I'm at fault for creating the problem of you spending all your time with data. Additionally, you are spending your day in the warm embrace of Adobe or Google Analytics because your job is set up as "data people."

In the biggest mistake post above, I'd encouraged you to spend time with the business, with the site (mobile or desktop) and dig from a non-data point of view. Today, I want you to do the same… Spend less time with data and a bit more time with your website. Specifically, the most key elements of the website.

The higher order bit is simple. In the second post on this blog (one million words ago), I'd shared the value of qualitative analysis because it is the only way to get context you need to answer the question why something was happening, rather than just relying on data which only answers the question what happened. Lab usability testing and online surveys both provide great strategies to obsess about user centric design. My love for heuristic evaluations is sourced in the fact that they are relatively straightforward, require the best possible cost – almost free -, and rely on you and your team.

My idea today is even simpler. The four-point self-driven path-to-business-glory:

1. Find the most critical experiences in your digital existence.

2. Try them yourself as if you were the actual user.

3. Cry.

4. Now that you have the why, use the what to highlight the importance of improving the experience.

You must be freaking out, you have a huge website and 25 mobile apps.

While I do think it is a great idea for you to carve out 30 mins each week to execute the four-point approach above, I want you to start with places where your for-profit or non-profit entity is most likely to make money. Then, because this will be so addictively sexy, you should make time every week (might I suggest 1330 – 1400 hrs each Friday).

The initial focus of the above four steps will be the last-mile (core) experiences on your website. The starting point will be as simple as it can possibly be so that everyone in your company will care tons: Are we fabulous at the things most important to us making money as a company?

It does not matter if you are are B2B or B2C. Neither does it matter if you are a for-profit or a non-profit (it takes capital – human and financial – to change the world, right?).

My advice for you how to execute this massively important process is broken into the following sections, using delicious real-world examples:

Intrigued? Ready to learn from three wonderful companies, and their real-world reality, how be a one-woman/man user-centric design revolutionary?

Let's go!

HTC Does Not Check-out

Let's look at one example of the four step process above in action. It comes courtesy of a personal experience.

We all know HTC is in trouble. I've always thought they pushed the edge and took risks. I have had three HTC phones, and I loved HTC One. They have an approach to simplicity in software that is closer to a pure Google experience (when compared to the nails scratching a blackboard irritation that is personified in the Samsung phones).

I was in the market for a new phone recently (turns our tripping on oneself and falling into a swimming pool for a quick ten seconds is enough to fry a Nexus 5X). The announcement of an HTC 10 was that very day. A quick review of the even simpler approach by HTC to software (very close to pure Google, most default apps are Google) and pictures of the HTC 10 and I was sold.

Within ten seconds of getting the available for order email from HTC, I was on the Buy Now page.

And then… I was stumped…

HTC Checkout

Select Carrier was pre-selected as unlocked, exactly what I was looking for.

I could not figure out how to Select Color, which presumably would ungray the PRE-ORDER button.


I reloaded. No dice. Opened the page in the Edge browser – sometimes Microsoft is all you need to do the trick. No dice.

Extremely frustrating.

I am a usability expert after all, I did figure it out.

Turns out you have to click on the Unlocked green icon. It does absolutely NOTHING when you click on it. But, that click opens up Step 2 for you to Select Color. That in turn opens up the PRE-ORDER button.


Now consider this. Here is a company in deep financial trouble. They desperately need early order like mine (at full price!), a full month before they'll ship the phone. They really need to know if their marketing, and last hope the HTC 10, is going to be received well. Yet, no one bothered to try the web experience to check how much it sucked. AND, it was the only way to submit a pre-order!

The insanity of it all makes my blood boil. And, I don't even work for HTC. As someone who loves the web, who is passionate about digital experiences, it makes me bat-crap cray-cray when I see this level of staggering incompetence.

It should upset you too. This is happening on your website.

When was the last time you submitted a product review on your site? Or, tried to submit a lead? Or, unsubscribe for your company mailing lists? Or, download a piece of software? Or, customize the layout of the car (boo BMW boo!)? Or, tried to return a product? Or…. or anything else that is directly connected to you making money?

Just do it.

My recommendation will yield two great outcomes:

1. You will get insights you can use for your data/campaigns. The why for your what .

2. You are going to become stark-raving mad at the incompetence you'll see from your own company.

Thing 2 is priceless. And, your career will really, really take off.

United Breaks Hearts.

To prove that these experiences come in many different shapes and sizes, let's look at another example.

united wifi

I humbly believe the worst checkout experience in the known universe is buying Wi-Fi on United planes. It does not work with password managers like Dashlane (which would greatly reduce the nightmare). The form has a crazy captcha that will require prayers to Buddha and the layer of magma in the middle of planet Earth. Drop-downs in the form related to credit card expiry date or other elements are terribly organized. It is missing primitive intelligence, like the city does not get auto-filled after you type in the Zip Code. It does not remember that I'm a United 1k member, and that they have all my credit card, underwear size etc. info already, and let me press one button to buy.

I would keep going on, and this is a one-page experience, but let me stop.

It honestly is the worst. I challenge you to submit an experience worse than this via comments below.

Oh, and one more thing. Set everything above. United is experimenting with pricing, you can buy Wi-Fi by the hour.

How about making it easy for me to figure out how much to buy…

United Wi-Fi Checkout

I'm flying from SFO to ORD.

It is not an 81 hour flight.

Not wanting to pay too much, I had to buy Wi-Fi twice because I guessed wrong the first time. Frustrating.

Why is something so gosh darn easy so very, very hard? I understand times are tough at United-Continental, but don't United employees buy wi-fi on United planes? Or, even better, tried to buy Wi-Fi on competitor planes and realized how much better they are? Why do they put up with this atrocious horribleness? Don't they love their company?

While I'm being a bit more passionate than you might expect me to…. consider that, literally, hundreds of thousands of people each day sit on a United flight – which is already frustrating for reasons that have nothing to do with United – and the very first thing they have to deal with is avoidable pain.

Patagonia Returns No Love.

Here's a story of unrequited love.

There is perhaps no brand I love as much as Patagonia. I love, love, love Patagonia. I love the clothes, the quality, the fit and all that normal stuff. The reason I love, love, love Patagonia is the depth and breadth of their corporate responsibility and the fact that as a B Corps company doing good for the world is in their legal charter.

Patagonia though refuses to return my deep love for it because of how difficult it makes the most basic thing an ecommerce company should be good at: returning products.

Let me explain.

If you see me out and about, anywhere in the world, I'll be wearing my well worn scratched blue nano puff jacket. I love them so much, I buy them for others. Recently though, my aunt did not like the green color and I had to return it.

It is easy to start a return…

patagonia returns step1

When you click continue you land on the Shipping & Billing Page. The Shipping Cost is described as "flat rate repair shipping cost." I don't actually want to repair anything, I just want to return the jacket. I don't know if that is what Patagonia will charge me to return the jacket, or returns are free as I'm not sending anything for repair.

patagonia returns step2

What is also a tad bit confusing is that they are asking for a shipping address.

My mind goes back to the multitude of returns we have made via Amazon Prime, and I can't recall having to confirm my shipping address.

Is the assumption of the Patagonia digital user experience team (if they have one) that most of their customers move after they buy Patagonia products?

Worse is yet to come.

When I scroll down on the above page, I see this… REVIEW ORDER.

patagonia returns step3


What order?

Order to return a jacket?

Is Patagonia so short of buttons that they could not make a separate one for the return process and call it PROCESS RETURN?

I genuinely pause at this moment not sure how much the return costs, and what I'm ordering. Perhaps an address label?

But remember, I love, love, love this company. So, I persist.

Here's the next page…. It is called Shipping & Billing. What the hell happened to REVIEW ORDER!

patagonia returns step4

I would have assumed at the minimum the above step would happen when they asked me if I had moved homes after ordering the jackets.

I persist of course and give them my credit card, which will be charged for $5 or $0. I'm not quite sure.

Then I have to go to two pop-up windows to separately print a page I have to include in the package and the page I have to stick outside the package.

The whole experience is so bad, it hurts my feelings. Especially because I really do love this brand and I can't believe they suck so much.

I don't understand what the problem is. Is this so bad because Patagonia run out of money having created a order submission process that they had to re-use it for processing returns? Is this so bad because no human at Patagonia has experienced returning anything they've purchased on the internet? Is this so bad because I am the only person who has ever purchased anything at and hence honestly they don't need to give a crap for one person?

As an outsider to United, HTC and Patagonia, it is hard to understand why companies that put so much money into trying to provide a service seem to run out of money, or love, at the last-mile.

Fix that for your company. Fix the last-mile.

Oh, and remember my beloved blue nano puff jacket? Don't bother searching for it using the search box on any webpage. You get zero product results. Zero. For a jacket that costs $199 list. Zero results via search. Patagonia is making me cry, I don't know how I'm going to fall asleep tonight.

Your Turn | Ideas To Impact Your Bottom-line Today.

If you are a part of an ecommerce company, order something right now (in a different tab, keep this one open to read the rest of this post!). Make note of what frustrates you. Email it to the CMO. Then tomorrow. Try to cancel the order. Take notes. Email them to the CMO. If it won't let you cancel the order, try to return the order after you get it. Take notes. Email them to the CMO.

That is what it takes to drive change.

If you work at Salesforce, submit an online lead, experience your company in all its frustrating glory that your potential customers do.

If you work at Unilever, go to any brand's active Facebook page and submit a problem using the comment system. See what happens.

If you work at AT&T, try to review the current month's bill to understand the charges on a family plan before you use the online bill pay feature. Then, get really, really mad. (Or, ask me to send you a video of my pain as I try to do that each month.)

If you work at the Lutheran World Relief, try the funky box that opens up when you hover over the red Donate Now, see how it feels. (Then fix it please.)

I hope you'll be the bright star whose obsession with true digital simplicity and glory will infect others in your company. Imagine how many problems will be found, how much improvement can be driven…. all without Google or Adobe Analytics.

Oh. And, before I forget. Try all of the above on your mobile websites and mobile apps. I would post screenshots, but I fear the pain it would cause you. So. Be sure to have a friend or lover hold your hand before your dive into your company's mobile experiences. It is going to suck a lot, but consider the fact that you are going to be doing God's work and making the world a better place.

Bonus | Download: The team at Google has already spent loads of money on research to identify the mobile best practices, with loads of cool examples. Why not benefit from Google's spend and improve your mobile experience? PDF Here: 25 Principles of Mobile Site Design.

[sidebar] I'm writing a weekly newsletter that shares tips on how to make sense of data, my favourite data visualizations, marketing strategies and things to avoid in your quest to be a smarter digital person. No advertising, just amazing advice. You can sign up here: The Marketing-Analytics Intersect. Thanks. [/sidebar]

BUT I Want Data-First!

For some in our audience here, it is hard to leave analytics and data behind no matter how desperately I want you to. I understand the pain of trying to let go of years of accumulated comfort from never having to experience your business, and only living through data. I've done it.

You can use data as a starting point, if you really want to.

It is possible that the HTC team could have found their heartbreaking Pre-Order page via the fabulous Shopping Behavior Analysis report that is part of the magnificent Enhanced Ecommerce Reporting in Google Analytics.

shopping behavior analysis google analytics

The above data does not belong to HTC (15% also might be a bit too high!). But, the first column is what we would be looking for. That could trigger a visit to the website to try the user experience.

I do want to caution that not everything broken will be so easy to find, hence I want you to complement your data skills and analysis efforts with just going to the site/app and trying to emulate a normal person (you!).

Another source of starting points, if you insist on using the data, is to leverage the Behavior Flow report that automatically helps you unpack the complexity of the user experience on your website or mobile app.

behavior flow report google analytics

I am not a huge fan of path analysis, so do know that you have some of those issues here. But, the GA team has done a wonderful job of trying to avoid some of the issues. Besides, you will likely be most intrigued by the red bars above and any really dark gray bars that are ending up in odd places.

By reflecting the actual behavior, GA is trying to get make this a productive use of your time and when it comes to trying to walk in the shoes of the user this report does a pretty decent job.

There are other reports you can use as well. I hesitate to give you a complete list because my core ask of you is to skip the whole data bit and just use your site/app.

Everything's Fine. Our Digital Experience Rocks!

It does not.

If you want me to prove it to you, reach out with your URL. It won't take too long to find the issues. :)

I do not believe in the everything's fine mantra. Stay hungry, stay foolish. If my four step process outlined at the start of this post does not yield anything meaningful, I take it as an indicator that I've become assimilated.

In these cases, my strategy is to use the blessings of the multitude of online usability testing tools to identify problems my beloved users might be facing that I've become blind to.

Steps One and Two are the same as I've recommended for when conducting Heuristic Evaluations.

Then, you'll pick a unmoderated usability (or moderated if you insist) tool you like, from UserTesting to UserZoom to Loop11 to UX Recorder (for mobile) to the many others out there. Conduct your studies, wait for the result to roll in, reflect on how much there is to do (a good thing!) and get stuff fixed.

Testing Kills/Delays Good Ideas.

If you have read either one of my books, or even bits of this blog, you would have learned of my extreme stress on experimentation in terms of fixing the user experience. And, I do stand by it. Most Analysts and Marketers are less than ideal proxies for actual users (you are too close to your own company).

There is a class of fixes, everything above, where you should not recommend testing anything. First, stop the bleeding. Just fix the primitive problems.

(I'm not sure there is one, but if there is one…) What should the United digital user-experience team to first? See what two of it's main competitors are doing, take the simplest things, implement them right away.

No testing.

HTC team? Patagonia?


Or, just copy Bonobos or Amazon or someone who has already figured it out.

In these cases, testing becomes another boondoggle that will continue for another trillion years while the bleeding continues. You can even quantify the bleeding if you use any of the above report. It is very expensive.

Once the core is fixed, then use experimentation and testing to elevate yourself beyond your direct competitors, beyond how great your customers thing you could ever be.

Closing Thoughts.

I really did write this post for you, the person whose job description does not have one word about user experience or user-centric design. No matter what your title, dogfood your own digital experiences. You'll find valuable insights that give context (why) to your data (what). Besides, you'll get mad and pity your customers, and, because you are awesome, you'll get things fixed.

And, once you fix all the last-mile (core) issues, don't stop there. Most Analysts, Marketers, rarely search for their own brands on Bing or Google or Baidu and follow the experiences that come up to the end. Rarely do they click on their display ads and see what happens (remarketing to death!). Most don't follow their brands on social media and are self-tortured by the embarrassment that is their social media presence. Most… You catch my drift.

User-centric design powered by you can transform your company. You can get a ton of enriching insights if you set aside 30 mins every week to use your mobile and desktop website, your mobile app, your Search ads and your social channels. So… make time, solve for world peace.

As always, it is your turn now.

Does your company have an existing user-centric design practice? If yes, are all the last-mile user experience problems solved in your digital experiences? Is there a cultural incentive in your company to do what I'm recommending above, even if your job is not UX? What is the most embarrassing thing you've discovered about your company? What is the most delightful phone buying, wi-fi ordering, order returning experience you've seen? Is there a painful experience you want to share, perhaps we can get it fixed (!)?

Please share your tips, best practices, painful experiences, joyous clicks, and masterful guidance via comments below.

Thank you.


  1. 1
    Suzanne Barker says

    An amazing call-to-arms Avinash.

    The expectations from my team are that I'll provide data to the various teams who will then identify issues that need fixing. Often this takes too long. At times things get completely mangled.

    I will take your recommendation to heart and create my own versions of video recordings of things that are broken on our site. Playing these to the c-suite might have a higher impact than my abandonment rate reports.

    Many thanks!

  2. 2

    Hey Avinash,

    Obviously there are some similar experiences while buying online on Flipkart and where shopping carts were not working the way it should.

    Clearly employees in those companies need this post.

  3. 3
    Stephanie says

    From your examples, I now have insights on how to motivate people from my company.

    It is a little shocking to realize that in the quest for multi-channel attribution or some other fantastic analytics solution we are missing what perhaps matters the most.

    Thank you so much this is really a great content!

  4. 5
    Peter James says

    I'd love, love, love to get a job at Patagonia to find and fix these things.

    Anyone got a connection there? (almost my entire wardrobe is Patagonia, haven't had to return anything yet though…)

  5. 6

    Here's a good one (in Google's house!): start a Hangout with someone, click on the "Photo" button on the right side of your text tray. When the big screen pops up (with "Upload Photos," "Albums," "Video Search…") click on Web Camera.

    Google uses Adobe Flash Player to allow access to your camera. O.M.G. The interface with next steps that will allow you to take and send a photo from your webcam looks FAKE it's so 1990s.

    • 7

      Jess: Good one!

      Being the large company that it is now, Google has a ton of these. Here's my contribution to your list. The other day I replied in Gmail and a little message came up that said something to the spirit of "Message has been sent. If you would like to undo the send, please check settings." I went to settings, every tab and I could not figure out where the heck the feature was!

      I suppose it would be too much trouble for the UX folks at Google to link directly to the feature. So frustrating.


  6. 8

    Always love real world examples!

    During a massive web redesign project we implemented on our sites during and post launch with the thought that eventually we would pull it off the site. We did not, it is still live and on occasion we get feedback and can respond.

    Getting users feedback – always helpful.

  7. 9

    Great article as usuall. The 25 principles link took me to a Google page that had this message –

    The requested URL /media/ was not found on this server. That’s all we know.

  8. 11

    I just tried unsubscribing from mail lists. I cant believe how many of these guys want to make it tougher.

    I am telling them not to waste their money on me but they don't want to "let it go".
    What is their idea?

    • 12

      Shuba: This is a pet peeve of mine as well!

      At the very core, it is hard to understand what is the value of keeping someone who desperately does not want you. It is not like if you make it hard I'm not going to start marking your email as Spam.


  9. 13
    Karl Castan says

    I have one … about your writing style. But please can you be a little less "hip" with your writing. Say what you have to say and drop all the asides. It's tedious. It's disruptive. It is so unnecessary. And you are not really that good at it. Stick to what you are good at. This is not an episode of Seinfeld.

    • 14

      Karl: I appreciate the feedback, thank you.

      I will try and be more thoughtful about trying to be "hip" (though my kids assure me I am a trillion miles from being hip with my writing, so I am not even trying!).

      It is by design though that the blog is not as dry as the material or industry it covers. That it tries to simply and connect at a life level. And, I think a decade in, :), it is what I'm decent at.

      I do appreciate that you are amongst many who would prefer a different style, and I might sadly not retain you as a reader.

    • 15
      Andrew Rosen says

      The primary reason I have remained a loyal reader of the blog for the last six years is that Avinash writes like we all speak. It makes the content accessible to all types of readers. There are enough articles that seem to be written by robots.

      If you read more of the blog Karl you'll note that while Seinfeld was a "show about nothing", Occam's Razor is a blog about the most material topics to our jobs as Analysts.

      I disagree with your comment.

    • 16
      Silas Moestrup Pedersen says

      I don't agree with Karl on this one.

      Keep it lively and accessible as Andrew writes.

  10. 17

    At our humble little company (not Unilever or Patagonia, just NetGalley for digital review copies of books), we make this a part of our interview process for all potential hires. First, did you go to our site? Did you try to join? Request a book? What would you change and improve?

    We want people who a. of course are curious about our business; b. bring a fresh set of eyes; and c. aren't afraid to tell us when our UI is insufferable or unintelligible. We've learned quite a lot that way.


    Susan Ruszala
    President, NetGalley

  11. 18

    This is Art in written form Avinash, thanks for the refreshing experience.

    HTC?? Anyway, I expect it to be better than the previous generation.

    I'm gonna keep cooperating by surfing the web (in my spare time of course, my boss don't like me to stick to the 'cloud' too long) to let marketers understand what I, The User, wants. You will find No Losers in this game just because.. : I will Buy What I Like.

    I'm sure I will make your C-suite happy after checking their next Income Statement so appealing thanks, partly, to another happy consumer.

  12. 19

    Thank you for your tips Avinash. I'll appreciate your approach. What do you mean with the usability of the forms on Salesforce?

    Their Thank you page or something different?

    • 20

      Gerard: Salesforce has lead gen forms of various kinds, there are also forms to sign up for stuff. I've found in my experience, on mobile and desktop, clicking through Search or other Ads, that they tend to be exquisitely hard/complicated.

      Often, these forms are also selfish – force you on to a give me a lead but I won't tell you want we can do for you or why we are relevant for you first! Not a great user experience.


  13. 21

    I think a certain Avinash could do with a thank you page after opt-in here:

    Not painful but could be improved :-)

    • 22

      Anil: The thank you experience is shifted to the email. First after you sign up you get an email, and after you confirm you get another longer note with expectation and values.

      I should try to see how to get the sign up click on the page to take you to a different page here itself. Good idea.


  14. 23

    Hi Avinash,

    Excellent write-up and excellent examples. There are many instances where marketers and analytics specialists sit in an ivory castle forget about the actual customer, although, we always preach focusing on the customer.

    While analytics data tells a lot about what is going on the website but I really believe that if an analyst looks carefully at the data (or even listens to it), the data will also reveal why the "what" might be happening. Yes, you will need qualitative research to validate the why but data can get us started.

  15. 24

    GoDaddy checkout terrifies me.

    When buying a domain they do not include the domain name being bought on the payment page. Wait, did I really spell that correctly? If you back up then you have to enter the payment details again.

    How hard could it be to include "you are buying this .com" on the payment page?

  16. 25
    Ravi Sharma says

    Hi kaushik,

    You have simply done a great job. When I sarted reading your post, I didn’t understand what you meant to say.

    But after giving a read twice i understood the whole thing .

    Thanks for sharing.

  17. 26
    Jonathan Finegold says

    I purchased Darth Vader cuff links from Amazon, only for them to break during my wedding. I wanted them replaced, so I go to Amazon and ask to have them replaced, only to find out that I absolutely must (1) ship the original cuff links back to get my money back and then (2) re-order the cuff-links. If only we could cut that middle step out and just apply my money back to a new, automatic order of the same item.

    Regarding why these supposedly simple problems go unfixed (I didn't say unnoticed, because I think they do get noticed), for a team that's probably juggling dozens of different marketing projects — website re/design, app re/design,newsletters, content, et cetera –, it's hard to make things like these priorities or you have to outsource. I know, I know, how can you not make such a simple problem, costing you so much money, a priority? But, it's oftentimes difficult to comparatively evaluate the expected revenue/profit on a larger project that might be taking up a large chunk of your man hours and a small fix, which you can just as easily say "oh we'll get that tomorrow" to (and tomorrow you push it off to the day after, of course).

    • 27

      Jonathan: It was definitely a sub-optimal experience for you (or anyone else).

      You are also right about why sometimes these things don't get fixed. I have to admit that I think with some data and projections we can show how massive the lost opportunity is now, vs. the projected impact of the big project in the future.

      Thanks so much for sharing our comment.


  18. 28

    I just tried to email a blog post from my non-profit's WordPress site and the captcha is so bad I refreshed it at least a dozen times and couldn't make out all the digits in any of them. When I did try it a few times, they were wrong. So glad we're transitioning to a new site and I'm going to see what we can do in the meantime. What good is trying to develop great content if it can't be shared!

    In posting this comment I also discovered our url is also not working correctly! :S

  19. 29

    Hi Avinash:

    It was hard to read but in the end filled with knowledge. thanks for sharing such a great knowledge with us :)


  20. 30

    As a developer and a marketer, I have to say, you got me there! There are times when as a developer who wants to finish the task, I end up with a user experience which is not the best way to do things (dropdown for City when I could detect it via multiple ways),

    Often at times these bad decisions are a result of client meetings, where instead of educating I ended up kowtowing to do something which could have been avoided.

    Let me try and think for the user and not for the conversion. Modal pop-ups are another pet peeve of mine – they give "conversions" (I wonder about their qualification rate).

    I appreciate the way your content is slowly ensconcing me in its warm embrace while making me want to be a better marketer. A lot of articles we read these days are not as tightly themed. The blog post followed up by the newsletter is a fantastic way of drilling these important things.

    Some of your earlier posts are also relevant to being customer centric. and also the part about the Airport checking email, which talks a bit about being more customer centric.

  21. 31
    Terry Hayden says

    Hi Avinash,
    I really love your style of writing and I hope you don't change it. The content was excellent, as usual. I was a recent victim of United's horrible wi-fi experience, so that example really hit home!

    Thanks for all the info!

  22. 32

    Hi Avinash,

    A great blog post that personifies most of the struggles I experience, personally I don't have such a problem with finding the issues as I do with getting them changed. So many businesses have constrained development pipelines and long lead times on bug fixes that makes the process, as an analyst, nearly as frustrating as the poor design.

    I can't tell you how many times I've gone… "Just change it! What's the problem! It's just a bit of javascript! AHHHH!"

    Have a look at the site I work on, you'll have a field day.

    Also, I like keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys, what self respecting excel user doesn't? As I finish typing in this "Add your perspective" box I'd like to use the tab key to move my cursor to the "Name" box, however when I hit tab it takes my to the "Home" button in the top nav ALL the way at the top of the page.

    Luckily I know where the End button is so not such a headache for me.

    Keep writing, love your blog!

  23. 33

    I find it entertaining that a lot of the good landing pages you find out there, or at least the home pages, that have the highest CTR also seem to be the best liked.

  24. 34

    Thank you – brilliant and incisive as always.

    The bits that always get me are the 'pull your hair out' moments that occur when trying to buy stuff from people. Some websites just don't get it and sadly, some never will…

  25. 35

    Cool that you brought this up Avinash. This is exactly how we do it!

    I might add that there is an awesome tool called Hotjar where you can do visitor recordings. We found lot's of interesting insights (like dead ends in purchase processes and much much more) with that one.

    Have a great weekend,


  26. 36

    I hate ruin your day,but adding to your bad experience with Patagonia, your Nano blue jacket is on sale now is $139.00. :)

    Great post as always Avinash!

  27. 37

    Step 1 – See a titled post you don't recognize posted on Occam's Razor.
    Step 2 – Wonder how old it is, or if you just caught it right at the crispy newness.
    Step 3 – Search header and title area for publish date.
    Step 4 – Curse your inability to scroll faster through the longest (albeit awesome) webpages ever.
    Step 5 – Find date semi-grayed out in a tag box, hiding from your prying eyes.
    Step 6 – Begin scrolling back up like a Hobbit scaling Mt. Doom.
    Step 7 – Email the CMO.

    • 38

      David: As long as the content seems fresh, and/or relevant, does it really matter when it was posted?


      PS: I usually jump to the first comment, it is almost always within hours of the post going live.

      • 39

        Exactly what I was thinking.

        The content is what matters not the date of posting. And you have great content here, Avinash.

        I guess some people are just going to look for dates because they fear "wasting" 20 minutes to read a huge post of yours :).

        Anyway, I never look for dates, I just look for valuable information.

  28. 40
    Kevin Leake says

    It is surprising HTC or Patagonia do not realize how fundamental their mistakes are. Perhaps it is a true as they say, the simplest things are the hardest to do.

    Thank you for linking to your old post on heuristic evaluations. It was a concept that I was unfamiliar with, it is so useful.

  29. 41

    Absolutely loved this article, I'm a first time visitor and I'll definitely be back.

    I've never been a fan of Captchas and I'm glad the Google 'I'm not a robot' style captchas are proving popular, one thing that was never clear with old captchas, is it case-sensitive?!

  30. 42

    Hi Avinash,

    We call that brand experience.

    How should any interaction with the brand feel like. Offline or online, before or after the purchase. It doesn't matter: The brand should be the answer and sadly even the bigest companies fail very often in delivering a great brand experience.

    It is even worse that this happens so much in regards to Services like in your patagonia example.

    I read somewhere a couple of days ago that today 75 % of first Service contacts are made online. So especially those Service contacts are a major brand building factor. Just look at a brand like Apple – would you see something like patagonia from them **side note they would not want you to return anything anyway just sell you something new and fancy **.

    So please people. Don't let programmers just do the Job. Care! :)


  31. 43
    Alhaj Talukdar says

    A very nice collection of examples with lessons that apply universally.

    Thank you for this valuable post Avinash.

  32. 44

    The HTC example made me frustrated just reading it.


  33. 45

    It is a bit of stunning to understand that in the journey for multi-channel attribution or some other phenomenal examination arrangement we are missing what maybe matters the most.

    Much obliged to you so much this is truly an incredible substance!

  34. 46

    Wow, so much fail … great post on why usability is so important!

  35. 47

    I agree.

    A frustrating digital buying experience sets your teeth on edge and all companies offering digital or other products need to make it easier to buy, navigate, and figure out.

    I love you for saying this.

  36. 48
    Himmat Chahal says

    "The whole experience is so bad, it hurts my feelings. Especially because I really do love this brand and I can't believe they suck so much."

    Lol! Awesome article, great real-world UX blunder examples.

  37. 49

    I don't understand why 'marketers' don't spend more time actually assessing the sales funnel – make it simple and you win :-)

    • 50

      Andy: You are right to stress the value of spending more time on understanding intent and then evaluating if our content, marketing and measurement accommodates for it.

      The challenge is two fold.

      1. It is rare for a company to incentivize behaviour in it's people to care for the whole company, the whole customer experience. Companies silo. "I'm the acquisition person." "I'm the store person." "I'm the shipping person." Leads to sad outcome.

      2. Employees don't have the self-initiated motivation to go two steps beyond their core role. One step before their job to understand the core customer-centric inputs that are driving their job and one step beyond their job to understand how their outputs will influence the next step. This is important.

      Company culture. Human motivation.


      • 51

        TRUE: it's hard to find employees who are conscientious enough to ensure things are done effectively – and even if you do, as you point out, most organizations don't value their input anyways :-(

  38. 52

    Great post, it's always a good idea to keep the user in mind when designing your website!

    Having user friendly pages create a better experience for the customer and increase the likelihood of recommendations and sharing of your pages and business.


  1. […]
    Suck Less | A Plea For User-Centric Design: Powered By You!,

  2. […]
    You can use data, Kaushik says, but look at your site first. Show it to strangers. Commission a user test. Find out everything you possibly can from a qualitative standpoint first, then use data to clarify and classify your insights.

  3. […]
    Avinash is an expert in Analytics, Digital Marketing and Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google. Read his post, “Suck Less | A Plea For User-Centric Design: Powered By You!” and pass it to anyone on your team that second guesses the User-Centric approach.

  4. […]
    Now that you have the why, use the what to highlight the importance of improving the experience.

  5. […]
    If you want great insight on user experience, read Avinash Kaushik’s great blog post here:

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