Google Pet Peeve Number 1

~ even Google has usability issues ~

Google, a favorite poster child for simple and easy to use site design, is not without its own issues. My biggest pet peeve with Google is the way the system handles erroneous logins. I’m not talking about not talking about simple username/password mismatch, but something a tad more complex. Let me explain: Suppose you are a user of the Google AdSense system, but you also maintain under various names (often accounts for clients), accounts for other aspects of Google. Now, let’s assume you want to login to review your Analytics, and you mistakenly input your Google AdSense account username and password into the Analytics login. What do you think would happen? Better yet, what do you think SHOULD happen, because what does happen is not what should… One would expect some validation to occur with perhaps a friendly warning and perhaps the option to access the correct service. Well, I’ve made this mistake more than once (feel free to berate me for being an idiot here, but my point remains). Instead of Google politely pointing out my mistake and giving me a chance to remedy it, I get trapped into a sales headlock by Google. Entering your AdSense username / password combo in the wrong place throws you into this screen: Notice there is no way to back out of this page or to get to the proper account — just a blatant sales pitch masquerading as an insightful and helpful message: “We’ve noticed you’re a Print publisher. Were you trying to log in to your Print account instead?” Well, thanks, Google geniuses, how about giving me a way to get the heck out of here?? Indeed, since you can tell this is the login to the other system, why the heck don’t you re-direct me??? But, instead of helping you, they shamelessly go on with this: “While you’re here, why not learn how you can enhance your business with Google AdWords…” That should say: “While you’re trapped here and trying to figure out how to get to where you really wanted to go, we’re going to stuff this sales pitch down your throats and laugh as you try to escape!” Note there is absolutely nothing on this screen to help a user who has made a mistake — and no way out. Let’s see what happens when the hapless user tries to escape this Google trap: If you click on the Google logo, instead of routing you to the Google home page, the system takes you back to the AdWords login screen — and to make matters worse, the system proceeds to automatically process your username and password again and then dump you right back on the screen you see above! Nice work — both frustrating AND a complete waste of time. Clicking on the AdWords Home link on the footer does the same thing! Clicking the Help link opens a new window of AdWords help — loaded heavily with info on why you should sign up now. (OK, so now I have 2 windows of useless crud on my screen; thanks for the “Help.”) If you wish to correct your mistake, you must: 1. dump this page completely, 2. go back to the Google home page, 3. log out, then 4. find your way to the Analytics page again and 5. try to login again! This is a classic example of bad usability and unforgiving site design. Users make mistakes. If you cannot support “undo” then you need to give them the chance to correct their mistake — not put them in a head lock and shamelessly flog your products to them. Google may say “do no harm” but it would sure be nice if that credo was extended to “waste not thy users’ time and patience.”

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