Your customers are laughing at you

Your customers are laughing at you

Michael McIntyre was one of the artists who performed at the 5th Channel 4 Comedy Gala in London, May 2014.

In his 9 minute comedy routine 6 minute comedy routine (the full 9 minute version has been edited down to 6), in effect, presents the results from his own usability testing. And we laughed. It’s really very funny.

Take a look at the video clip.


It’s funny ’cause it’s true

Michael goes through 10 experiences that have tripped him up or made doing something online more challenging and complicated than he was expecting.

I laughed all the way through. I suspect you did too. These experiences he shares are familiar and we’re nodding in agreement whilst we’re chuckling. It’s funny ’cause it’s true as Homer Simpson once said.

It’s supposed to be easy

“It’s not easy to book online, it’s supposed to be easy to book online. Easier than the past when you go the phone or queue in person.”

He’s completely right, it should be easier online. By paying attention to usability and the user experience you can reduce the amount of times things don’t go to plan for your website visitor.

10 conversion hurdles from Michael McIntyre

Here are ten conversion hurdles that are routinely placed in front of (potential) customers that Michael McIntyre wonderfully lampoons during his sketch.

  • CAPTCHAS. A type of challenge-response test.”that thing before you even get to the tickets. Out of focus wavy letters”. “Why am I doing this challenge?” “Is it a joke? I just want to buy tickets”
  • Registration. “Everything you do you have to register first”. Confronted by a “big registration form”. Whilst booking cinema tickets: “I don’t even know why I’m giving them my address. I thought it’d be best to come to you to watch the movie”
  • Drop down lists. Such as country lists. “Huge big list of nations” “it’s a local cinema! Who’s coming from Angola to my local cinema!”. “E for England, no G for Great Britain. Shit! United Kingdom.”. On moving some countries top the top in an otherwise alphabetical list: “Sometimes United Kingdom isn’t here, because they’ve left it right at the top”.
  • Email address. Confirming your email address by entering it twice. “So desperate to get your email address so they can harass you with little sales promotions”
  • Opt-in/out checkboxes (and misleading text) “If do you not want to now want to receive endless emails for the rest of your life and the life of your children…” “What do I do? tick or untick?”
  • Total Length of process. “I’ve just spent 45 minutes guessing [a CAPTCHA] and a further 20 minutes scrolling through every country on Earth”
  • Terms and conditions. “I don’t have a fortnight to do legal reading”. So he just accepts them. “Worried that iTunes will turn up in 5 years and say that they own my house. You signed up when you bought the second series of Breaking Bad. Who knew. Get out”
  • Passwords and password strength. “Weak? F-off, those are my children’s names!”. “What if you forget your password, but you didn’t even know you’d joined?”
  • Security questions – “What is your favourite dog? I can’t believe I chose a favourite”. “Mum, can you phone me back with your maiden name, I’m trying to go to the cinema here.”
  • Form validation. “Everything is filled in. you click next with confidence and everything comes back in red!”. “We’ve taken all your credit card details away for no reason”. “Timed out? Who the F— am I racing against?”

Laughing or crying?

During the sketch, the audience were laughing. Laughing at what could be your company’s website.

Unfortunately, they won’t be laughing when they come up against a hurdle on your site. They’re more likely to reaching for the close icon or back button and abandoning the process altogether.

James Royal-Lawson is an independent consultant working with usability and optimisation of web sites and digital services. James is based in Stockholm, Sweden and has an unstoppable passion for digital goodness.