Poor user experience design at CapitalOne

During the past few years, the financial institution CapitalOne hinted at the importance they give to design, through the acquisition of design companies Adaptive Path in 2014 and Monsoon in 2015.

My guess is that they’ve been focusing their efforts on the recently-released CapitalOne mobile app, which I have to say reflects some wonderful design work.

My hope is that in the future, they’ll turn their attention to the website, which still suffers some usability problems like the following.

Curious whether my credit card auto-pay is properly configured, I visited the CapitalOne.com website today, and clicked on “Manage Auto-Pay”. Here’s where that led:

I was almost certain that I already had auto-pay setup, but it looks like I don’t. In that case, let’s click “Get Started” to set it up…

The red alert—cognitively communicating that I did something wrong and, furthermore, am attempting to do something disallowed (adding more than one AutoPay to an account)—reveals that in fact I did already have auto-pay setup, and so all my confusion and frustration was unnecessary.

Those unintended consequences of usability improvements

Both my Jeep Wrangler and Toyota iQ introduced usability improvements that have some unfortunate consequences.

When I switch my Jeep off, its headlights remain on for about 30 seconds. Presumably this was done under the assumption that you’d appreciate the lights in a dark garage, as you make your way to the door.

While that may be nice for people in North America living in big homes with garages, it has had the following consequences for me:

  • Hardly an instance of public parking goes by without some bystander shouting to me, “Hey buddy, you left your lights on!”, after which I feel obligated to explain that, “it’s a feature”.
  • I’m never quite sure myself whether I actually turned the lights off or not. And so, inevitably, I end up delaying my departure from the vehicle for the 30 seconds or so it takes to confirm that the lights are actually off. (And you can imagine that bystanders find that—a guy staring at his car, with its lights on—equally odd.)

The Toyota has a key-less entry system such that if I’m simply in proximity of the car, and in possession of the key, the doors will automatically unlock if I attempt to open them. While nice, it makes confirming that the doors are actually locked a bit difficult.

Here’s how that usually works:

I get out of the car and lock the driver-side door. Then I try to open the door, to confirm that it’s locked. But because I’m physically near the car and in possession of the key, the door automatically opens. With a sigh, I lock it again, walk away from the car, and then ask somebody else to try to open the door.

(My friend’s Volkswagen solves this problem by additionally retracting the side mirrors, allowing you to visually confirm that the car is locked.)

The Toyota has some other irritations, like sounding the seatbelt alarm when I place my computer bag in the passenger seat. But I think that’s more related to regulations, than attempts at improving automobile usability.

Thoughtful design — Comparing the user experiences at Basecamp and Atlassian

At Makalu, we’re longtime users of Basecamp, the online project management system created by the folks at Basecamp (formerly 37signals). 37signals care deeply about design, and this is evident pretty much everywhere in the user experience of their products. Continue reading Thoughtful design — Comparing the user experiences at Basecamp and Atlassian