Usability of ordering usability products from usability expert

I was trying to order a number of usability reports from an usability expert’s site and ironically this process was horrible. I’m not going to name the site here but I am going to write about the experience because it was so horrible. This experience actually inspired this blog site and was going to be the first article.

The usability expert’s website had a separate page for each report. Great. I was able to read detailed information about each report. I opened a new tab for each report I was interested in. I tend to open a tab for everything and can have hundreds open at the end of a day’s browsing. I would hope opening a product per tab in an online shopping situation in isn’t too different from what other people would do when ordering multiple products from an online shop. When buying from these multiple tabs some online stores where some get it right and some fail. This site failed more than most.

Starting from the left most tab I selected ‘download’ which took me to a third party seller and had placed this report in the cart. From the next tab I did the same, where I would expect to see two items in the cart, but I only saw one. Now I had two separate carts with one item in each. Obviously multiple tabs wasn’t going to work for the 8 products I wanted to buy (ie, giving the seller money).

At this point I was thinking that a developer would struggle to create a shopping cart that functioned this way.

Because it was going to work this way I had to stay in the shopping cart and select products from an incorrectly labelled drop down list. I don’t like drop down lists for navigation on websites because I find they hide their contents and prevent me from using the site the way I like; this process reinforced that dislike. Now I have to go to each product instead of a single list to add quantities for multiple items as many other shopping carts do.

The titles for the reports I found on the website didn’t line up with the titles in the drop down menu. There is some discrepancy between the seller’s website and the shopping cart vendor. So now I have to refer to all of the tabs I have open, follow the links on these pages just to work out which item they are in the drop down and then go back to the main shopping cart tab to complete adding that item to the cart. The update cart button didn’t do anything, since you couldn’t modify quantities for the versions I was buying, so why was it there?

Mysteriously halfway through adding products to the shopping cart it reverted to only having one item in it. I’m not sure if there was a delay from adding the initial two in separate tabs or I accidentally started working in the wrong tab, but I had to start from scratch. At this point I’m not confident that halfway through the checkout I’ll suddenly be paying for the wrong or incomplete list of products. I didn’t trust the shopping system from that point on and triple checked everything I did.

Overall the process was painful and I wouldn’t have bothered completing it except the product being sold was unique and was for my work. Usability experts selling products should look at providing a shopping experience that represents the usability values their company represents. By following their own advice they may sell more products.

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