Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Form, Function, Design

I'm not a web designer. I don't know much beyond basic HTML/CSS, and certainly design, which many people forget is a separate concept, is not my forte, but I can tell when a site's functionality has not been thoroughly considered. And you know what? It drives me bonkers. Your site can be the prettiest, flashiest thing around, but if you don't deliver a user interface and experience that makes sense...well, fix it.

I would normally not call out a website that I believe falls into this category (because again, who am I?) but I have just had the most aggravating experience on airbnb.com and I have to, just HAVE TO, vent about it. 

We were looking for a place to crash in NY this weekend. We're going up to visit some friends and have a place to stay every night except Sunday. My wife found this site, airbnb.com, and asked me to take a look at a few listings and take over actually booking us somewhere. No problem, dear. So at o-dark hundred I follow up on this task (I had to get in the required Skyrim time after all). Maybe it was the late hour that made this so frustrating, but here's what happened:

I went to the provided link to view the property. Looks good enough. Person hosting doesn't look like a psycho. Let's send her a message through the site to see if the place is available. Alright, filling out the form, creating a message, selecting my timezone, yes she can call me but how does she get my number...must be later in the process...okay, sure, it wants me to create an account, that makes sense. Are you serious? There's a mandatory profile pic? Who does that? Fine, fine. I'll upload some generic pic from my drive. Loading, loading...been loading for a while now. Doesn't look like it's actually doing anything. Javascript must not be working. I'll try it again. Same result, huh? And it deleted my info. Crap. I hate that. If you're going to kick me out of the process at least save my info. I'd better copy my spiel to the clipboard. So, uploading pic doesn't work. Well, it has an option to use Adobe to load my built-in camera and take a pic. I guess I'll do that. Oh. That doesn't quite work either. It never activated my camera so it took a picture of...nothing. It's black. Whatever. I didn't want to post a pic anyway. Finally, created an account. 

Account in hand, I can now try the form again... Wait, what? It's saying I have to pick dates for my trip. I did pick dates. I can see it in the window behind this pop-up. Argh! I have to go through this again? Fine. Getting pretty aggravated now, but I'm just gonna send this one message. Making sure my dates are selected...okay, sending message...still doesn't see that I have dates? What the hell? 

Okay, deep breath. Maybe you're missing something obvious. Oh, maybe I have to validate my account. Doesn't make sense that it would complain about my dates if the problem is account validation, but you know what? I have a hunch about this site...yep I sure do have to validate. A little hidden, but I'll own this one. I can verify either via SMS or a phone call? Fine, I'll pick the phone call. Here's the call, I don't need to answer it. Oh, I actually need to enter a code. Doh. That was my bad again; shoulda read the instructions better. Starting to move too fast due to frustration. Let's try it again. Call me to verify...ummm...I answered the phone this time and it didn't give me a code. It just said my account has been verified. What? But I have to enter a code, right? Maybe it somehow auto-verified the account so I don't need a code. Fine, let me cancel this message, log out and back in. It's still asking for a code. There is no auto-verify. Why in the world would you give the option of verifying via phone if the code isn't given in the phone call? What's the purpose of that? Who's responsible for this? Let's try SMS option then. Finally, I get a code! Yay, code! I can haz teh account!

Now we can get down to business. Let's send her a message. Great, message sent! Let's look at some more properties so we can have options. I'll put in my search parameters: city, dates, number of guests. Sweet, lots of options. Oh, this one looks nice. I'll click on it and send that person a message too. Oh. It's not available for the dates I chose. Ummm...okay. Well, what about this one? Also not available...cue my Stewie voice: What the hell, man!? Why give me the option to chose dates in my search if you're not going to actually filter on that field? Alright, finally found one that is available...you're kidding me? They don't allow parties of more than one person? Didn't I put two in the guests field? Again, why do you offer a searc---You know what, never mind. I'm just gonna go to my blog and tell my five readers how much your site ticks me off. 

/rant

For the record, I also did provide feedback to the site directly so that they know how non–user-friendly I found it. 

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