Jason Bell
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Blog

A collection of blog posts, hopefully slightly less cringe-y than Live Journal, and who knows, perhaps they’re entertaining.

The Worst UX Ever.

Sometimes you don’t know a bad user experience until it happens to you. Sometimes you think, as a user, something that should obviously be included in the product or service you’re using. You take it as a given, so as to when it’s not there it shocks you, takes you by surprise, or in this case, upsets you.

To give some context my wife and I recently found out we were expecting. Incredibly excited, scared, nervous and fizzing with anxiety of newly expectant parents we did everything we could to learn as much as we could.

From scouring the internet, forums and free advice from companies hoping to snag life long customers we both did the decidedly millennial thing of downloading apps to track the progress of the baby’s growth. The apps were fun, interesting and gave us loads of information about everything that was going on. Both myself and my wife got notifications daily either related to what was going on or what was to come.

Then we miscarried.

All our excitement and hopes, dissipated, in an incredibly painful and cruel way. After the initial shock, to help us move forward I disposed of all the things we had accrued. Literature, leaflets, books, vitamins all hidden from sight. This is in no way trying to erase the past, but in line with out-of-sight out of mind, we didn’t want constant reminders whilst we grieved.

Then came the apps. My wife is nothing if not thorough and conscientious. Prior to our wedding she downloaded at least six different weather apps to get a full image of what the weather could be like on our big day; checking each of them daily and stressing out accordingly. She had been just as excited about our future arrival and had downloaded multiple pregnancy apps.

Logging on to most of them following the profile settings there was a way to update our situation. The messaging was warm, apologetic and hopeful, we then deleted or hid them deep into our phone menus for another day. Except one.

One app provided by a massive media company did not allow us to update our situation. It did not allow us to delete our account. This process led to increased distress compounded with the continued notifications from the app. Even deleting the app did not end this as we continued to receive emails from them.

My wife, full of grief and anger left a one star review of the app and was snarkily replied to in a way that maybe shouldn’t be the way you’d speak to someone who had just suffered a miscarriage. “You just follow the instructions and unsubscribe.” The instructions we found, were buried deep into a grim UI which was difficult to navigate and used deliberately obtuse language.

In the end I had to log in to their web page, turn off all notifications, unsubscribe to multiple streams of email newsletters, all with no confirmation. Determined to make sure that the emails would not continue I changed the email associated with the account to an old unused email address I had, logged in to that email and then proceeded to mark the sender of all those emails as spam.

Seriously? Why the hell would anyone need to do this? Going through one of the most distressing times imaginable, why would anyone who wants to create a service and help, make something so difficult?

1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, people just don’t really talk about it. Therefore potentially one quarter of all users may suffer a personal tragedy and this service completely negates them, making a painful process worse with poor design. Needless to say, if and when we become pregnant again we will not be using this app.

I believe what truly made this experience so poor was the juxtaposition with other leading apps - a simple button click and automated message of condolences were quick and gave us as the users what we wanted.

I don’t wish to belabour this point of how crucial user research and user centred design is, but maybe, just maybe, if you're building something with an emotional core, show a shred of empathy.