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Friday, November 30, 2007

Anti-Pattern: Misguided Misdirection - DirecTV

Ok, so I moved to the bay area a couple of years back. I am from Dallas. So with the cowboys doing such an incredible job and the local teams being so horrible I decided to watch some "good football". So I added the NFL Ticket to my DirecTV. As a "bonus" they give you NFL SuperCast. Its a way to watch football online when you are traveling, etc.

So after logging in to the DirecTV site and digging around in the left nav I found the SuperFan (also called SuperCast :-) Login link. Here is the page presented to me:
Apart for the confusing use of "SuperFan" and "SuperCast" here was my thought process:
  • I am logged in (A)
  • It recognizes me as a Registered DTV customer (B)
  • But wait, it is asking me if I am registered (C)
    • Does that mean I am not registered with the SuperFan service? Because it surely knows I am registered (since I am logged in)
    • Am I a Sunday Ticket SuperFan subscriber? Heck, I am logged in-- you don't know? Yes of course I am.
    • Hmmm... maybe I need to "Register" my DTV account with the SuperFan service? (D)
  • Its also asking me if I am even a DirectTV customer. Huh?
At this point I clicked "REGISTER" (thinking I need to register with the SuperFan service).
Did you catch the error message?

You are currently logged in or we are recognizing someone else that has been using this computer. At the top of the page you can either log out or let us know if we are recognizing you or not.


Ok, so my problem is I was reading too much in the first page.

Notice the message "Not a DirecTV customer" (E) and the "Order Now" (F).

Even though I am logged in (and thus registered) and have SuperCast/SuperFan the rest of the page does not know if I am registered, if I have SuperCast or even if I have DirectTV!
This is an example of the Anti-Pattern: Misguided Misdirection. It happens when a page has misleading cues, calls to actions, etc. leading the user to do the wrong thing. Notice the large call to actions on the page are "REGISTER" and "ORDER NOW". In reality since I am logged in and a SuperCast member and a DirecTV customer, I don't need all the advertising pleas to get me registered and to buy DirectTV.

What is even more frustrating is after calling the customer support line I suggested they put a note in for the web team to fix this incorrect messaging. I got a "cold shoulder" response and it was obvious that DirecTV did not have a process for this to happen nor did the customer support person care in the least that this page creates a lot of unnecessary calls to their call center.

At Netflix we try to listen carefully to our call center. One recent example was our reps telling us (in a focus group) that they were getting frequent calls with users not being able to find the Member Login link when they come to the Netflix site logged out. The fix? Real simple. Enlarge the "Member Login" link and change the background making this easier to find. The good news-- It worked!

Anti-Patterns: Talk at Web Builders 2007

Earlier this year I started giving talks on Anti-Patterns for Interaction Design.

What are anti-patterns?
Anti-patterns, also called pitfalls, are classes of commonly-reinvented bad solutions to problems. They are studied as a category so they can be avoided in the future, and so instances of them may be recognized when investigating non-working systems. The term originates in computer science, apparently inspired by the Gang of Four's book Design Patterns, which displayed examples of high-quality programming methods. - Wikipedia, Anti-Pattern.

I think of Anti-Patterns as pitfalls with a pithy name.

Like the software anti-pattern counterparts, the following anti-patterns are common pitfalls to avoid when designing interactions.

In the weeks months years :-) to come I will discuss a number of these anti-patterns with real-world examples.

If you are at Web Builder 2.0 in Las Vegas, NV next week I will be giving the Anti-Patterns talk there as well as my Designing the Rich Web Experience Talk (Principles & Patterns).