Hijacked User Experiences

Robert and his girlfriend Sarah are making their way to Sarah’s parent’s new home in San Fransisco for the first time ever. It’s a pretty important occasion. This is the first time they’ll get to meet in person as Robert and Sarah live in New York.

After entering the car and turning it on, Sarah reads off the address to Robert who enters it into the GPS. The happy couple takes off. Seconds into the drive, at the first stop sign, the GPS asks them if they’d like to visit the McDonald’s 2 miles down the road instead of making the right hand turn and stay on route to Thanksgiving dinner. They click on the “dismiss” button and continue on their trip. On the way, they encounter some traffic. They go back to their GPS and try to find another route. The GPS politely alerts them that the current route their on has a McDonalds and asks them if they’d like a reminder to drive by there at a later time before choosing to reroute.

This clearly wouldn’t be acceptable on a GPS yet many sites are built with these features where they can be hurdles all the same. Consider that most users are trying to get somewhere fast.

Who are we doing each of these things for and why? If the answer is not that these will benefit the user in some way then there’s a problem.

There are plenty of reasons why sites still feature these hurdles but none of them have the user’s best interest in mind. More often than not they’re meant to solve a internal problem the the user couldn’t care less about. So we implement carousels because different business units to feature content. We implement aggressive pop-ups that block your progress towards the destination you had in mind. We implement hamburger icons as a lazy way to stow everything away and not take proper information architecture into account.

Who are we doing each of these things for and why? If the answer is not that these will benefit the user in some way then there’s a problem. Lets remember who we are really out to please. Without a consumer / customer / client there is no business.

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