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This isn’t just an online shopping experience…

Online sign up requests are bad news for UX

Online sign up requests hit the user experience hard

You know what’s nice? The fact you can buy flowers on the M&S website without having to register as a new customer. Once you’ve selected said blooms, and 'added them to your bag', the next screen is a 'Sign in' page, but with the option of Guest Checkout on the right hand side, with a calm and gentle voice of reason telling you there’s 'No need to register', since you can '...choose to create an account later if you wish'.

This is music to my ears (or eyes I suppose, whilst online shopping). It’s all in that one little word, ‘choose’. Choice puts the user in charge. It offers the busy online shopper the potential to save time, to do something later, or indeed, not at all if they haven’t the time nor inclination. Choice puts the customer first and keeps them happy and coming back for more. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had to register a username and password for an online purchase – and every time it’s a hassle as I mentally scrabble for yet another memorable password, eventually giving up and resignedly settling, somewhat worriedly, for the same one I use on the other 37 shopping sites I frequent (Passwords hacked anyone? Some of us may be easier targets than others. Gah).

These days more than ever, the online user experience, or UX as it’s known in the online world, has to be about optimising convenience. With a world of choice at their fingertips, and a hectic schedule, people are looking for the quickest and easiest when it comes to online interactions. Far from being in the interests of the user, making people sign up and register an online account before allowing them to buy anything is all about the seller. And that’s a UX fail.

M&S removes this irritating scenario completely by offering online customers the freedom to purchase whenever they please. They then collect the user’s contact details later on in the filling-out-your-billing-info stage, by which point people are, crucially, further down the ‘consumer journey’, already committed, and perfectly willing to deliver the goods.

This is not an advert for M&S. It’s a rant about the need for certain retailers to update their online purchasing processes. Take our contact details so you can relentlessly ply us with unwanted emails highlighting your sales and offers, by all means (we can always unsubscribe…no one’s that busy). But don’t hold your stock hostage until we sign up to your system, 'cause in a convenience-driven world, people will shop somewhere else and you’ll be quickly left behind.

So top marks to, on your UX – Mum’ll be delighted with the flowers and I’ll be shopping with you again, and long before the next Mother’s Day rolls around I’ll warrant.