One of my hobbies is cooking, so I often search for good recipes on the Internet. Recently, I found an excellent recipe for berry scones on RecipeZaar–soooo good, in fact, that I wanted to write a review on it.
I saw the one review someone wrote about the recipe the first time I made it, so I expected to find the link to write a review somewhere near the reviews. Nope, not there. But it wasn’t too hard to find the “Rate this Recipe” link at the top of the recipe. The problem was what happened next.
Rather than letting me rate the recipe, RecipeZaar wanted me to register. Okay, fine, I thought, I will give them my e-mail address, then they’ll let me write the review. But they didn’t. Now that they have my e-mail, they want to send me an e-mail and make me confirm my registration before I can write the review. Argh! I’m trying to finish up my scones and get back to work. I thought I would do them (and other visitors) a favor by telling them how good this recipe is, and now I’m having to go through all these unnecessary steps just to write a stinking review! Hey people, I’m in a hurry here!
But I do really like the recipe and hate leaving things unfinished, so I go to my e-mail, and there is (thankfully) an e-mail there from RecipeZaar. They did do SOMETHING right!
So I click on the link in the e-mail where they tell me to and I get to a screen with my password on it and instructions that tell me to copy the password in order to change it. Okaaaaaaay. So I do, and I click on the Continue button, thinking I’ll FINALLY get to write my review, but no. Now I’m taken to a personal information page where I get the joy of deciding whether or not to get e-mail for different situations and changing my password. (Geez, can I write that REVIEW yet?!???) Okay, so I change my password, change a few e-mail settings, click Save. Now where is my recipe? I need to know what temperature to cook these scones at … it’s nowhere in sight. I’m still on the settings page. Oh boy. How do I get back to my recipe?
Oh here’s a recipe search feature. I type in “Dannon berry scones”, thinking I’ll get right back to my Dannon berry scones recipe, but RecipeZaar shows my a whole list of all kinds of other scones and Dannon things that have nothing to do with berries. I end up going back to Google, which was how I found the recipe in the first place, just to find the recipe I was using in the first place on RecipeZaar.
Thanks, Google, for rescuing RecipeZaar from a disastrous experience. Now that I’m finally “registered” I can finish my task.
What happened here was RecipeZaar violated a coupld very simple rules of usability:
Let the user complete their task.
Do everything you can to help the user complete the task they’re working on–then you can ask for favors (like registering at your site or filling out a survey). In this case, my primary task was to make the scones, and then I decided on a secondary task: to write a review. RecipeZaar got in the way of both of those tasks by requiring me to register and losing my place (the recipe) in the process. I’m so angry that I am willing to take time out of my day to tell everyone else about my horrible experience.
Remember what I told you.
RecipeZaar should have known I was trying to write a review of the Dannon Berry Scones recipe (hey, I clicked on the “Rate this recipe” link!), but after taking me on a rather circuitous path, they left me in the middle of nowhere, with no way to return to my task. They completely forgot that I had told them I wanted to write a review of the Dannon Berry Scones recipe.
If you’re going to require people to register in order to do something on your site, do it quietly, without interrupting, and ask for all the information after the user has completed their task. If you must ask for it before task completion for some reason, at least have the courtesy to return them to where they were so they can finish what they were doing.
There, I’m finished ranting. Were you listening, RecipeZaar?