Archive for the 'Rants' Category

Why is Facebook so addictive?

I admit: my blog has been suffering from lack of attention lately. Why? Yes, I’ve been busy with work, but that doesn’t truly capture it. I have to admit it: I’ve become addicted to facebook.

I first started on facebook because my teenage son is on there (and has been addicted from the start)–and being a mom, I wanted to know what it was about and what he was doing up there and the easiest way for me to do that was to get up there myself.

At first it was awful. I hated it. I had just a few friends and those few I had kept superpoking me with hits and kicks and slaps. I felt like I was getting beat up every time I logged on–there was so much negative energy! My son had the easy answer to that: “Mom, if you don’t like that, just uninstall that app.” So I did and life became much more peaceful again.

It was then that I realized Facebook can be whatever you want it to be–that’s the magic of it. Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can find it on Facebook. For me, I’m into being green and saving the earth, so I found games where I can send fish and plants to my friends to save the rainforest and the ocean. I can send “green energy minutes” to get wineries in CA to power up with sustainable energy. The one I really find addictive is myFarm. I’m so into plants and food, especially plants that produce food and it’s winter here now. myFarm gives me the opportunity to see things grow and harvest them, plant them again, harvest, plant, rearrange–and send my friends gifts of trees, cows, horses, chickens and goats–and they send me gifts back. On top of all the fun, it helps fight global warming. Oh it’s great fun.

The other magic part about it is you can connect with friends you lost track of–and stay connected. I’ve connected with friends I used to work with 10 – 20 years ago. And then one of my high school buddies found me one day, and she was connected to the rest of the group. It was so awesome to hear from them and see where they’re at, see their families and know what their lives are like now. It’s like stepping back into high school, but we’ve all matured so it’s even more fun than it was back then.

It’s not the most usable site out there. There are many people I run into who tell me they just don’t know how to use it. They might be up there, but they don’t quite know how to do everything.

And it’s not very reliable, either. Many times I get errors and have to retry and retry.

It’s full of annoying ads that try to trick you into clicking them. You have to be very careful where you click on Facebook. facebook-annoyingadWhen you’re using an application and you see a green “Continue” button, you would usually want to click it, right? But the green “Continue” button is really part of the ad, so you should (almost) NEVER click a button that says “Continue” on Facebook. No wonder it’s so hard to use!

Sometimes, even without clicking on anything, you’ll get an ad or land on a web site you didn’t want. This happens to me all the time on myFarm. On any other web site, I would leave and never come back if they did that to me, and when it does, I make a little note in my head never to shop at that store or use that site. Anyone that would purposely hijack a user from their task (even if my task is to play a silly game in Facebook) is not worth doing business with. It is a level of rudeness that transcends rude–almost to the point of violating the user’s rights.

So why do I put up with it? Because my friends are there, because it helps me feel like I’m doing something good for the world, because I can stay connected with the people I want to be connected with and know how they are, what they’re up to, see pictures of them and their kids, their pets, their lives, share old memories. It’s like the bar where everyone hangs out–maybe you don’t like it all that much, but you like the people there, so you keep going. I just wish ALL my friends were there.

I bet I could easily find my other friends on Facebook if they would fix those usability problems and annoying, obnoxious ads. They could really take a lesson from Google there. Google’s ads are unobtrusive, and they support the task the user is undertaking, so the ads are very welcome and useful and even nice to have. Google ads are never rude, interrupting, deceitful, and confusing, like Facebook ads are.


Wells Fargo violates bank account security rules

Okay, this is way off the topic of usability, but I am so angry about this I just have to blog about it. Wells Fargo is my bank and for the most part, I love them. Their online banking system is very usable (which I love, except I wish they’d give me a more direct way to get to my billpay) and overall I’m really happy with them. Their staff is really friendly when I walk into the bank and they really go the extra mile to get me the information I need, even if it’s the details on a deposit that happened over a year ago.

But their auto finance department needs to take bank account security 101. If I’m even a few days late on my car payment, they have a rude person call me and harrass me to do my payment over the phone. I don’t really doubt that it’s Wells Fargo calling me, but I have no way of actually confirming that, so I always tell them I don’t want to do my payment over the phone and I will take care of it online. They get really angry about that. Today the lady on the phone actually called me “weird”. Would she give her account information to anyone who happened to call and say they were from Wells Fargo?

Banks have been trying to educate consumers to NOT give your account information out to callers. You should never, never, never give out your bank account number to someone who calls you, no matter who they say they are. Only if you initiated the call is it okay to do that. It just blows me away that Wells Fargo, one of the largest banks out there, would knowingly ask consumers to do this, perpetuating the problems with account fraud we have. And the fact that this woman thought I was “weird” because I wouldn’t give her my personal information and bank account number means that the message is not getting across to consumers, either. People are willingly giving them their account information over the phone when they have no way of confirming that it actually IS Wells Fargo calling.

 I tried to walk into a Wells Fargo bank to complain about it, but they told me they don’t have anything to do with auto financing and I would have to call their auto finance department. There is a problem there, but I don’t blame the innocent bank staff. I blame the idiot managers in the account finance department who are:

  1. Hiring rude people to harrass people about their car payments. If my account was months overdue, yeah, it’s okay to call, but not after a couple days. If you’re going to call me when my payment is a couple days late, you should be really, really nice about it.
  2. Asking people to give out personal information over the phone with no verification that they are who they say they are. By doing this, they are teaching consumers habits that only increases banking risk and makes it easier for fraudsters to hijack people’s bank accounts and steal identities.

It’s maddening and it’s got to stop!