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Don't make me regret paying you!

First rule of ecommerce interfaces: After the customer has paid you, don't make him regret it, or he won't pay you again. I had a trial subscription to DeviantArt this week, and rather liked it. It runs out tomorrow.
Below is the page DeviantArt showed me today when I tried to log in:
Screenshot, click for enlargement

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Below the fold, I was offered the option of subscribing right now, or "No Thanks". Clicking on my name at top left or on my message center items returned me to the same page. There was no "ask me later" option. I was considering a subscription anyway, so I picked the 3-month option, paid with Paypal (there was another interface error in the screen where you choose between credit card and Paypal payments, but I'll get to that later), and returned to DeviantArt.
Below is the page DeviantArt showed me after I came back to the post-payment page and clicked on my name
at top left:
Screenshot, click for enlargement

View image

Clicking on my MessageWatch link didn't help. Going back to the post-payment page, I found a link to the DeviantArt site home page, where I didn't particularly want to go. I clicked that and found that the service was in read-only mode, which might explain things. Or it might not. I'm often baffled by the way pages on DeviantArt fail to update after I make a change. In any case, DeviantArt's subscription process breaks users' expectations in a rather nasty way. Putting potential subscribers on the spot doesn't earn them points with me, but pissing them off after they've paid is a big no-no. I'd better get huge benefits from the subscription in those first three months, otherwise they'll be my last three months.

Comment from Martin Diehl:

One rule explains it all ...

The web is filled with amateurs pretending
to be professionals.

Many of my HTML pet peeves have to do with the details ...

Asking for my ZIP code, but not saying 5 digit or 9 digit;


  • limiting the field to 5 digits

  • Allowing 9 characters, instead of 10 (5 + dash + 4 = 10 characters)

  • Allowing enough space (10 characters) but then allowing only digits [0..9].


Same sort of stuff with phone numbers ...

  • Requiring me to parse the number into 3 fields (area code, exchange, number) instead of just letting me type 123-456-7890
For that matter, in an Outlook Contact list ...
  • I want to know where it is written in stone that I must put the area code in "()" -- and if that wasn't made into a law, where did BillG and M$ get the right to force us to do it that way?
Likewise Credit Card numbers ... I would prefer to type the number in groups of 4 digits -- easier to check against the card for accuracy -- but they don't allow dash or space

Addresses where you must use a drop down to enter the state -- IMO, most people know the name of their state.

All of this has to do with the idea of forcing some data validation to happen in the PC ... but not bothering to make the effort to customize that editing in a sensible way.

As regards state names ... there are many software packages that validate city name vs. state name ... and include many misspellings ... and then generate the correct ZIP+4. Why not just let anyone type their address free form ... and have the software parse it?

Amateurs. That's the problem. ... Amateurs with power.

... No, wait ... Amateurs with power and limited vision.

My reply: Could be worse. I've had to deal with ecommerce applications where I had to enter a US state even though I don't live in the US. That's a thing of the past though.
Speaking of which, the iTunes store is still bloody useless if you don't have a credit card with a billing address in the US. And the Dutch store is impoverished, and their search sucks. Half a billion downloads and they still haven't got it right.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 27, 2005 10:13 AM.

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