Can Your Site Be Too Easy to Use?

image of easy buttonI’ve talked a lot about the perils of putting up barriers to your customers (Flash, logins to comment on blogs, complicated contact forms, etc.), but can a site be TOO easy to use?

I have a client who has a listing on Lexis/Nexis’s legal services directory and wanted it updated. (not my usual thing, but he’s “technologically challenged”).

He asked me to update a listing for him on Lexis/Nexis. He told me all I had to do was hit an update button and make the changes. This seemed way too easy (what, no login? no password?). Sure enough, he was right. I filled out an online form (with name, address, etc.) and uploaded the changes.

That’s when the trouble started. There was only a tiny box to put three pages of material, and no way to tell what it would look like “live.” Then, I got a message saying the changes would go live at their next update (no indication of when that would be).

I called and was told that the reason there was no password was because you had to add the name and address in the form (so that would stop fakes). Meanwhile, the name and address were all there in plain sight on the existing listing!

They also said it would take 7-10 days to go live. Why? Because they review each entry individually, retype it, and then upload it!! I asked them to send the changes so I could check that it was OK.

They wanted to fax them! I asked them to email me. They emailed the client (who doesn’t use email). The changes were sent in plain text, so I couldn’t see the formatting.

Then, they sent a second email saying the upload was too long (they had a 300 word limit, and the listing had 682 words). No sign of this on the site anywhere.

So, after three hours of talking to the client, making changes, checking them, several phone calls back and forth, reading emails, and getting strange messages, my client has the same old listing he had before (in which the typist misspelled the client’s name)!

Yes, be accessible, easy-to-use, and friendly, but don’t leave the doors unlocked with a big sign that says, “Steal my Stuff”!

Photo: civilian scrabble