“Bad” Websites: Poor Usability and Oversights

Three examples of poor websites that I’ve come across in the past few weeks.  A selection of poor usability and common sense oversights which should never have gone live.

The first is the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign, a website in favour of the Alternative Vote system for electing MPs.  Does the homepage even mention the AV system – no.  Does the site explain what AV is or give examples of how it is fairer than the existing first past the post system –  no.

There are some obviously fake hotel reviews on a local WhatsIn[InsertNameOfTownHere].co.uk site. You will need to click on the reviews tab to see them. All the reviews give the hotel in question 5 stars, all of them are highly positive with no criticisms whatsoever and the first 5 reviews are all posted by ‘anonymous’ within 12 minutes of each other.

The last example is perhaps the most surprising given it comes from a well known high street brand.

It involves the Boots store locator, accessible at the following SEO and user unfriendly URL: http://www.boots.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/StoreLocator?requiredAction=displayStoreLookupPage&displayView=StoreLookupView&langId=-1&storeId=10052&catalogId=11051

Boots Store Locator

So I do as suggested and enter my home town Watford into the search box and hit enter. Up comes the following page.

Error: Wrong Watford

Three things are wrong with this. First it is screaming “error” at me – why? I entered the name of my town as I was asked to, it isn’t my fault that Boots doesn’t know where I mean. A user friendly “Sorry, please clarify which town you mean” or similar message could easily be put up to address this nicely.

Second – the message states that fields containing “errors” have been “marked in red”.  No fields are red.

Third – I entered the exact text it suggested on the search page! If the case they recommend works this badly it doesn’t bode well.
Boots store locator drop down

Only once I’d reached this screen and was trying to work out how I was supposed to confirm my selection of the correct Watford from the drop down list did I notice the expandable form area, marked with the universal symbol for making something bigger –  a subtraction sign.

The manual search button (which was also on the first page) I needed to press to advance to the next page  is located so far away from the point of data entry that until now I had not seen it.

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