Put Your UX Where Your Mouth Is (Honest UX, Part I)
May 14, 2012
When you design an experience around a product, service or company, your opinion of the people who will use it becomes apparent.
In the case of user experience, you can often read a company by its cover. Does the company view its users as intelligent, or do they believe them to be gullible? Do they respect their users? Do they have their best interests in mind, or have they knowingly crafted user experiences designed to trick people?
Consider Amazon‘s checkout process (as captured May 9, 2012). As most people who have used the site are aware, Amazon offers free Super Saver Shipping on qualifying orders of $25 or more. Recently, they have added an option for free shipping for customers who sign up for a trial of their Amazon Prime service.
In the checkout options for orders that qualify (top) and do not qualify (bottom) for Super Saver Shipping, the fact that registration for Amazon Prime is wrapped up into the free shipping deal is obscured from the user. The similar visual design and the late placement of key information in the copy serve to distract from or hide the complete picture. (What’s more, the “Learn more” link mentions no fees, terms or other details about the trial. I only found those details buried on a page within Amazon’s help section after a Google search.)
It’s clear here that Amazon takes advantage of the fact that returning users in a hurry to check out will select the free shipping option (with the wrapped-in registration) out of habit and familiarity.
Consider the lost trust and negativity a shopper will experience upon realizing that they have unintentionally signed up for a service. Perhaps if Amazon chose to highlight the benefits and cost of the service in an outright way, users would realize the legitimate value of the service rather than questioning what Amazon is trying to hide by ambiguously wrapping the sign-up into the checkout process.
In contrast to the Amazon example, advocates of honest UX use ethics, empathy and honesty to solve problems. Honest UX is more than design. It’s a frame of mind that we use to empathize with and create better products and services for our users. And, interestingly enough, putting users’ needs at the forefront of a solution, above our own bottom line to make a quick buck, earns long-term customers naturally through trust and transparency.
What do you think Amazon’s checkout process says about their opinions of shoppers? As a user, would you feel undervalued or disrespected in this situation, or is “black hat” UX the new norm? Have you seen any other examples of either transparency or ambivalence in other user experiences?