Dell ASAP Software. @FAIL @UNBELIEVABLE FAIL

So I’m writing this as I sit on hold, waiting to get some information about the Adobe CS5 Premier Suite that I ordered a month ago.  I received some kind of license certificate in the mail with absolutely no instructions.  Of course I called Adobe, and these numbers mean absolutely nothing to them, so I’ve lost an hour there, mostly on hold.

So now I’ve been on hold with Dell for 15 minutes.  Do they have hold music?  NO.  They have some cheerful, clipped female voice that asks me to continue to hold, and then they try to sell me Microsoft Office.

Then they try to Sell me SQLServer.

Then Adobe Creative Suite 5.

Then they tell me they have 150,000 title for favorable bulk licensing programs.

Then they tell me that they work with Federal Agencies, and tell me to get in touch with software accounting.  Good to know in case I ever work for the government.

Then they thank me for holding, and tell me that they value my business.

Then the string of completely annoying commercials, over and over again.,

And again.

And again.

Whomever decided that it was a GREAT idea that they could try to sell me software and services while I’m sitting on hold frustrated with the purchase that I have already made is a complete dimwit.  I hope your boss (who I’m sure you gave this idea to thinking it would further your career is reading this)  because you made him look like a complete douchebag.

eCommerce Usability FAIL…

I currently live in Detroit 4 days a week, and commute home to my family for the other three.  This necessitates living in a small apartment in Grosse Pointe Park, and of course, getting the obligatory pizza from time-to-time.  Delivery is somewhat limited in Detroit, and I decided to order on-line a few weeks back from J*******’s Pizza.  I tried for 30 minutes to get to the order page.  Finally I just gave up and ate some Cheerios, but before I did, I fired off a note to the “webmaster” at the pizza store. Through their “contact” form.

I actually received a reply:

My name is M***** C****** and I currently work in the online ordering department. I was wondering if you could tell me exactly what happened so that I can better assist you with this problem.

So naturally I replied back:

I could not get to an order button. Kept having to go to main screen, then identify state, city, etc. Please put a zip code finder on the home page, then an order now button on the landing page. The landing page I found myself on had PDF downloads of the menu and coupons, but I couldn’t find an order button

And today I finally got another reply after about a week:

I have complied a step by step instruction guide to order online. I sincerely hope this helps! We at J****’s Pizza® want you to be just as excited as we are for online ordering.

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.

The instructions follow:

  1. Click “Find Store”
  2. Input your zip code and click “Search”
  3. Click “Online Ordering Available” under your desired store (If this link does not appear under your desired store this store does not currently offer online ordering)
  4. You may view the menus and specials from here
  5. If you are a new user to online ordering click “Register as a New User” located on the right hand side of the page
  6. Input all information and click submit
  7. Click “Add New Delivery Address”, input your information, and click “Add Address”
  8. Click the bubble next to your address and select “Order Now” next to your store
  9. Select “To-Go” or “Catering”
  10. Select “Pick-up” or “Delivery”
  11. Select your expected time (“ASAP” or select a specific date/time)
  12. Choose your items. Use the left hand navigation bar to help you find your favorite products.
  13. When your order is complete: To finalize an order you must click the yellow “Edit/Complete Order” button, and review your order to ensure it is correct.
  14. Then on the next page click the yellow “Proceed to Checkout” button.
  15. Then on the next page complete your payment information and click the yellow “Submit Order” button.
  16. The final page will confirm your order has been submitted and have details of your order including restaurant, order type, and expected time/date.

There is also a helpful guide at the top of the page listing steps 1, 2, 3.

When you order has been submitted you will also receive an email with the subject “Online Order” proceeded by the location you have ordered from. The email will resemble a receipt detailing the store and order information.

So, being hungry for dinner, I thought I’d go through the steps and count the clicks for the fastest possible order…

My notes:

  1. Click “Find Store” — FOUND AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE IN THE FOOTER MENU
  2. Input your zip code and click “Search” — takes you to a google maps embed with a bunch of stores, and your approximate location as a tiny map pin. The store I want is highlighted. Why don’t they just take me to the order page and highlight the name of the store somewhere in there? Put the food in front of me for God’s sake!
  3. Click “Online Ordering Available” under your desired store (If this link does not appear under your desired store this store does not currently offer online ordering) — did it
  4. You may view the menus and specials from here
  5. If you are a new user to online ordering click “Register as a New User” located on the right hand side of the page — I pre-registered to make this short(6 clicks at the end of this step)
  6. Input all information and click submit — skipped – I clicked order now
  7. Click “Add New Delivery Address”, input your information, and click “Add Address”–even if you click “returning user”, you still have to confirm the address or enter a new one. Another page, another click.
  8. Click the bubble next to your address and select “Order Now” next to your store —Did this (7 clicks now)
  9. Select “To-Go” or “Catering” — what she doesn’t mention is the landing page has all of the pizza stores that are close to you. Didn’t I already pick a place? Why am I confused again? Which store? Why does this page exist? Couldn’t the “bubble” in the other page have been a “To Go”, “Pick up” or “Delivery” choice box at that point, skipping this and the next step entirely? Wait a minute! I click “catering menu”, and get one item for delivery, but.. No way to even order it. Where the hell am I? I’m hitting the back button…(10 clicks)
  10. Select “Pick-up” or “Delivery” — arrrggghhhhh… I hit the “ORDER NOW” button…. THERE is the “To Go/Catering” and “Pickup/Delivery” radio button groups. and then I am prompted to CONFIRM THE DELIVERY ADDRESS ONE MORE TIME… I click on the ASAP button. Three clicks on this page…
  11. Select your expected time (“ASAP” or select a specific date/time) see above — I can finally see food to order.
  12. Choose your items. Use the left hand navigation bar to help you find your favorite products.–the “aspx” extension on the page was a dead giveaway. OF COURSE the screen doesn’t render in Firefox well (see attached screen shot). I’ll see if I can get through this… (we’re at, I don’t know 15 clicks? more? Lost count…)
  13. When your order is complete: To finalize an order you must click the yellow “Edit/Complete Order” button, and review your order to ensure it is correct.
  14. Then on the next page click the yellow “Proceed to Checkout” button.
  15. The final page will confirm your order has been submitted and have details of your order including restaurant, order type, and expected time/date. — I get to confirm my address one more time!  They want to make damned sure that I’m getting my pizza!

And the number of clicks is:

More than 30.

Below find the menu screenshot:

Another MS developer forgets to test cross-browser functionaliity....

If you’re going to have on-line ordering, knock off the number of screens, knock off the number of clicks Small operations often make usability mistakes, often because they have “weekend” developers, or worse, the management has someone that “has some Internet experience” build the pages or implement some pre-built store. I can’t tell what happened here. It’s just a train wreck.

My suggestion to help would be:

  • Plaster Order now everywhere, with a zip code entry in the “portlet”.
  • At that point you should know where it’s going. The landing page should have the name of the restaurant plus a possible alternate. It should also have one set of radios for catering, etc. GO TO THE FOOD NOW.
  • Choose the food
  • Confirm the order, and have a returning user login or address form with an optional sign up on one page.
  • You now have the order and the address. One page to collect the money with the order posted and back button to get to the order and edit it if need be
  • Enter credit card information and confirm the order. Send the email

Done. Steps eliminated. Here’s a thought. Go through the Amazon order process, new customer , existing customer, etc. They’ve spent millions upon millions of dollars streamlining that process. Just dupe it. You’ll be 90% of the way there. At this point, you’re about 10% of the way there.

Hmmm. There’s a Chinese restaurant across the street…

eCommerce Usability FAIL…

I currently live in Detroit 4 days a week, and commute home to my family for the other three.  This necessitates living in a small apartment in Grosse Pointe Park, and of course, getting the obligatory pizza from time-to-time.  Delivery is somewhat limited in Detroit, and I decided to order on-line a few weeks back from J*******’s Pizza.  I tried for 30 minutes to get to the order page.  Finally I just gave up and ate some Cheerios, but before I did, I fired off a note to the “webmaster” at the pizza store. Through their “contact” form.

I actually received a reply:

My name is M***** C****** and I currently work in the online ordering department. I was wondering if you could tell me exactly what happened so that I can better assist you with this problem.

So naturally I replied back:

I could not get to an order button. Kept having to go to main screen, then identify state, city, etc. Please put a zip code finder on the home page, then an order now button on the landing page. The landing page I found myself on had PDF downloads of the menu and coupons, but I couldn’t find an order button

And today I finally got another reply after about a week:

I have complied a step by step instruction guide to order online. I sincerely hope this helps! We at J****’s Pizza® want you to be just as excited as we are for online ordering.

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.

The instructions follow:

  1. Click “Find Store”
  2. Input your zip code and click “Search”
  3. Click “Online Ordering Available” under your desired store (If this link does not appear under your desired store this store does not currently offer online ordering)
  4. You may view the menus and specials from here
  5. If you are a new user to online ordering click “Register as a New User” located on the right hand side of the page
  6. Input all information and click submit
  7. Click “Add New Delivery Address”, input your information, and click “Add Address”
  8. Click the bubble next to your address and select “Order Now” next to your store
  9. Select “To-Go” or “Catering”
  10. Select “Pick-up” or “Delivery”
  11. Select your expected time (“ASAP” or select a specific date/time)
  12. Choose your items. Use the left hand navigation bar to help you find your favorite products.
  13. When your order is complete: To finalize an order you must click the yellow “Edit/Complete Order” button, and review your order to ensure it is correct.
  14. Then on the next page click the yellow “Proceed to Checkout” button.
  15. Then on the next page complete your payment information and click the yellow “Submit Order” button.
  16. The final page will confirm your order has been submitted and have details of your order including restaurant, order type, and expected time/date.

There is also a helpful guide at the top of the page listing steps 1, 2, 3.

When you order has been submitted you will also receive an email with the subject “Online Order” proceeded by the location you have ordered from. The email will resemble a receipt detailing the store and order information.

So, being hungry for dinner, I thought I’d go through the steps and count the clicks for the fastest possible order…

My notes:

  1. Click “Find Store” — FOUND AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE IN THE FOOTER MENU
  2. Input your zip code and click “Search” — takes you to a google maps embed with a bunch of stores, and your approximate location as a tiny map pin. The store I want is highlighted. Why don’t they just take me to the order page and highlight the name of the store somewhere in there? Put the food in front of me for God’s sake!
  3. Click “Online Ordering Available” under your desired store (If this link does not appear under your desired store this store does not currently offer online ordering) — did it
  4. You may view the menus and specials from here
  5. If you are a new user to online ordering click “Register as a New User” located on the right hand side of the page — I pre-registered to make this short(6 clicks at the end of this step)
  6. Input all information and click submit — skipped – I clicked order now
  7. Click “Add New Delivery Address”, input your information, and click “Add Address”–even if you click “returning user”, you still have to confirm the address or enter a new one. Another page, another click.
  8. Click the bubble next to your address and select “Order Now” next to your store —Did this (7 clicks now)
  9. Select “To-Go” or “Catering” — what she doesn’t mention is the landing page has all of the pizza stores that are close to you. Didn’t I already pick a place? Why am I confused again? Which store? Why does this page exist? Couldn’t the “bubble” in the other page have been a “To Go”, “Pick up” or “Delivery” choice box at that point, skipping this and the next step entirely? Wait a minute! I click “catering menu”, and get one item for delivery, but.. No way to even order it. Where the hell am I? I’m hitting the back button…(10 clicks)
  10. Select “Pick-up” or “Delivery” — arrrggghhhhh… I hit the “ORDER NOW” button…. THERE is the “To Go/Catering” and “Pickup/Delivery” radio button groups. and then I am prompted to CONFIRM THE DELIVERY ADDRESS ONE MORE TIME… I click on the ASAP button. Three clicks on this page…
  11. Select your expected time (“ASAP” or select a specific date/time) see above — I can finally see food to order.
  12. Choose your items. Use the left hand navigation bar to help you find your favorite products.–the “aspx” extension on the page was a dead giveaway. OF COURSE the screen doesn’t render in Firefox well (see attached screen shot). I’ll see if I can get through this… (we’re at, I don’t know 15 clicks? more? Lost count…)
  13. When your order is complete: To finalize an order you must click the yellow “Edit/Complete Order” button, and review your order to ensure it is correct.
  14. Then on the next page click the yellow “Proceed to Checkout” button.
  15. The final page will confirm your order has been submitted and have details of your order including restaurant, order type, and expected time/date. — I get to confirm my address one more time!  They want to make damned sure that I’m getting my pizza!

And the number of clicks is:

More than 30.

Below find the menu screenshot:

Another MS developer forgets to test cross-browser functionaliity....

If you’re going to have on-line ordering, knock off the number of screens, knock off the number of clicks Small operations often make usability mistakes, often because they have “weekend” developers, or worse, the management has someone that “has some Internet experience” build the pages or implement some pre-built store. I can’t tell what happened here. It’s just a train wreck.

My suggestion to help would be:

  • Plaster Order now everywhere, with a zip code entry in the “portlet”.
  • At that point you should know where it’s going. The landing page should have the name of the restaurant plus a possible alternate. It should also have one set of radios for catering, etc. GO TO THE FOOD NOW.
  • Choose the food
  • Confirm the order, and have a returning user login or address form with an optional sign up on one page.
  • You now have the order and the address. One page to collect the money with the order posted and back button to get to the order and edit it if need be
  • Enter credit card information and confirm the order. Send the email

Done. Steps eliminated. Here’s a thought. Go through the Amazon order process, new customer , existing customer, etc. They’ve spent millions upon millions of dollars streamlining that process. Just dupe it. You’ll be 90% of the way there. At this point, you’re about 10% of the way there.

Hmmm. There’s a Chinese restaurant across the street…

eCommerce Usability FAIL…

I currently live in Detroit 4 days a week, and commute home to my family for the other three.  This necessitates living in a small apartment in Grosse Pointe Park, and of course, getting the obligatory pizza from time-to-time.  Delivery is somewhat limited in Detroit, and I decided to order on-line a few weeks back from J*******’s Pizza.  I tried for 30 minutes to get to the order page.  Finally I just gave up and ate some Cheerios, but before I did, I fired off a note to the “webmaster” at the pizza store. Through their “contact” form.

I actually received a reply:

My name is M***** C****** and I currently work in the online ordering department. I was wondering if you could tell me exactly what happened so that I can better assist you with this problem.

So naturally I replied back:

I could not get to an order button. Kept having to go to main screen, then identify state, city, etc. Please put a zip code finder on the home page, then an order now button on the landing page. The landing page I found myself on had PDF downloads of the menu and coupons, but I couldn’t find an order button

And today I finally got another reply after about a week:

I have complied a step by step instruction guide to order online. I sincerely hope this helps! We at J****’s Pizza® want you to be just as excited as we are for online ordering.

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.

The instructions follow:

  1. Click “Find Store”
  2. Input your zip code and click “Search”
  3. Click “Online Ordering Available” under your desired store (If this link does not appear under your desired store this store does not currently offer online ordering)
  4. You may view the menus and specials from here
  5. If you are a new user to online ordering click “Register as a New User” located on the right hand side of the page
  6. Input all information and click submit
  7. Click “Add New Delivery Address”, input your information, and click “Add Address”
  8. Click the bubble next to your address and select “Order Now” next to your store
  9. Select “To-Go” or “Catering”
  10. Select “Pick-up” or “Delivery”
  11. Select your expected time (“ASAP” or select a specific date/time)
  12. Choose your items. Use the left hand navigation bar to help you find your favorite products.
  13. When your order is complete: To finalize an order you must click the yellow “Edit/Complete Order” button, and review your order to ensure it is correct.
  14. Then on the next page click the yellow “Proceed to Checkout” button.
  15. Then on the next page complete your payment information and click the yellow “Submit Order” button.
  16. The final page will confirm your order has been submitted and have details of your order including restaurant, order type, and expected time/date.

There is also a helpful guide at the top of the page listing steps 1, 2, 3.

When you order has been submitted you will also receive an email with the subject “Online Order” proceeded by the location you have ordered from. The email will resemble a receipt detailing the store and order information.

So, being hungry for dinner, I thought I’d go through the steps and count the clicks for the fastest possible order…

My notes:

  1. Click “Find Store” — FOUND AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE IN THE FOOTER MENU
  2. Input your zip code and click “Search” — takes you to a google maps embed with a bunch of stores, and your approximate location as a tiny map pin. The store I want is highlighted. Why don’t they just take me to the order page and highlight the name of the store somewhere in there? Put the food in front of me for God’s sake!
  3. Click “Online Ordering Available” under your desired store (If this link does not appear under your desired store this store does not currently offer online ordering) — did it
  4. You may view the menus and specials from here
  5. If you are a new user to online ordering click “Register as a New User” located on the right hand side of the page — I pre-registered to make this short(6 clicks at the end of this step)
  6. Input all information and click submit — skipped – I clicked order now
  7. Click “Add New Delivery Address”, input your information, and click “Add Address”–even if you click “returning user”, you still have to confirm the address or enter a new one. Another page, another click.
  8. Click the bubble next to your address and select “Order Now” next to your store —Did this (7 clicks now)
  9. Select “To-Go” or “Catering” — what she doesn’t mention is the landing page has all of the pizza stores that are close to you. Didn’t I already pick a place? Why am I confused again? Which store? Why does this page exist? Couldn’t the “bubble” in the other page have been a “To Go”, “Pick up” or “Delivery” choice box at that point, skipping this and the next step entirely? Wait a minute! I click “catering menu”, and get one item for delivery, but.. No way to even order it. Where the hell am I? I’m hitting the back button…(10 clicks)
  10. Select “Pick-up” or “Delivery” — arrrggghhhhh… I hit the “ORDER NOW” button…. THERE is the “To Go/Catering” and “Pickup/Delivery” radio button groups. and then I am prompted to CONFIRM THE DELIVERY ADDRESS ONE MORE TIME… I click on the ASAP button. Three clicks on this page…
  11. Select your expected time (“ASAP” or select a specific date/time) see above — I can finally see food to order.
  12. Choose your items. Use the left hand navigation bar to help you find your favorite products.–the “aspx” extension on the page was a dead giveaway. OF COURSE the screen doesn’t render in Firefox well (see attached screen shot). I’ll see if I can get through this… (we’re at, I don’t know 15 clicks? more? Lost count…)
  13. When your order is complete: To finalize an order you must click the yellow “Edit/Complete Order” button, and review your order to ensure it is correct.
  14. Then on the next page click the yellow “Proceed to Checkout” button.
  15. The final page will confirm your order has been submitted and have details of your order including restaurant, order type, and expected time/date. — I get to confirm my address one more time!  They want to make damned sure that I’m getting my pizza!

And the number of clicks is:

More than 30.

Below find the menu screenshot:

Another MS developer forgets to test cross-browser functionaliity....

If you’re going to have on-line ordering, knock off the number of screens, knock off the number of clicks Small operations often make usability mistakes, often because they have “weekend” developers, or worse, the management has someone that “has some Internet experience” build the pages or implement some pre-built store. I can’t tell what happened here. It’s just a train wreck.

My suggestion to help would be:

  • Plaster Order now everywhere, with a zip code entry in the “portlet”.
  • At that point you should know where it’s going. The landing page should have the name of the restaurant plus a possible alternate. It should also have one set of radios for catering, etc. GO TO THE FOOD NOW.
  • Choose the food
  • Confirm the order, and have a returning user login or address form with an optional sign up on one page.
  • You now have the order and the address. One page to collect the money with the order posted and back button to get to the order and edit it if need be
  • Enter credit card information and confirm the order. Send the email

Done. Steps eliminated. Here’s a thought. Go through the Amazon order process, new customer , existing customer, etc. They’ve spent millions upon millions of dollars streamlining that process. Just dupe it. You’ll be 90% of the way there. At this point, you’re about 10% of the way there.

Hmmm. There’s a Chinese restaurant across the street…

eCommerce Usability FAIL…

I currently live in Detroit 4 days a week, and commute home to my family for the other three.  This necessitates living in a small apartment in Grosse Pointe Park, and of course, getting the obligatory pizza from time-to-time.  Delivery is somewhat limited in Detroit, and I decided to order on-line a few weeks back from J*******’s Pizza.  I tried for 30 minutes to get to the order page.  Finally I just gave up and ate some Cheerios, but before I did, I fired off a note to the “webmaster” at the pizza store. Through their “contact” form.

I actually received a reply:

My name is M***** C****** and I currently work in the online ordering department. I was wondering if you could tell me exactly what happened so that I can better assist you with this problem.

So naturally I replied back:

I could not get to an order button. Kept having to go to main screen, then identify state, city, etc. Please put a zip code finder on the home page, then an order now button on the landing page. The landing page I found myself on had PDF downloads of the menu and coupons, but I couldn’t find an order button

And today I finally got another reply after about a week:

I have complied a step by step instruction guide to order online. I sincerely hope this helps! We at J****’s Pizza® want you to be just as excited as we are for online ordering.

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.

The instructions follow:

  1. Click “Find Store”
  2. Input your zip code and click “Search”
  3. Click “Online Ordering Available” under your desired store (If this link does not appear under your desired store this store does not currently offer online ordering)
  4. You may view the menus and specials from here
  5. If you are a new user to online ordering click “Register as a New User” located on the right hand side of the page
  6. Input all information and click submit
  7. Click “Add New Delivery Address”, input your information, and click “Add Address”
  8. Click the bubble next to your address and select “Order Now” next to your store
  9. Select “To-Go” or “Catering”
  10. Select “Pick-up” or “Delivery”
  11. Select your expected time (“ASAP” or select a specific date/time)
  12. Choose your items. Use the left hand navigation bar to help you find your favorite products.
  13. When your order is complete: To finalize an order you must click the yellow “Edit/Complete Order” button, and review your order to ensure it is correct.
  14. Then on the next page click the yellow “Proceed to Checkout” button.
  15. Then on the next page complete your payment information and click the yellow “Submit Order” button.
  16. The final page will confirm your order has been submitted and have details of your order including restaurant, order type, and expected time/date.

There is also a helpful guide at the top of the page listing steps 1, 2, 3.

When you order has been submitted you will also receive an email with the subject “Online Order” proceeded by the location you have ordered from. The email will resemble a receipt detailing the store and order information.

So, being hungry for dinner, I thought I’d go through the steps and count the clicks for the fastest possible order…

My notes:

  1. Click “Find Store” — FOUND AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE IN THE FOOTER MENU
  2. Input your zip code and click “Search” — takes you to a google maps embed with a bunch of stores, and your approximate location as a tiny map pin. The store I want is highlighted. Why don’t they just take me to the order page and highlight the name of the store somewhere in there? Put the food in front of me for God’s sake!
  3. Click “Online Ordering Available” under your desired store (If this link does not appear under your desired store this store does not currently offer online ordering) — did it
  4. You may view the menus and specials from here
  5. If you are a new user to online ordering click “Register as a New User” located on the right hand side of the page — I pre-registered to make this short(6 clicks at the end of this step)
  6. Input all information and click submit — skipped – I clicked order now
  7. Click “Add New Delivery Address”, input your information, and click “Add Address”–even if you click “returning user”, you still have to confirm the address or enter a new one. Another page, another click.
  8. Click the bubble next to your address and select “Order Now” next to your store —Did this (7 clicks now)
  9. Select “To-Go” or “Catering” — what she doesn’t mention is the landing page has all of the pizza stores that are close to you. Didn’t I already pick a place? Why am I confused again? Which store? Why does this page exist? Couldn’t the “bubble” in the other page have been a “To Go”, “Pick up” or “Delivery” choice box at that point, skipping this and the next step entirely? Wait a minute! I click “catering menu”, and get one item for delivery, but.. No way to even order it. Where the hell am I? I’m hitting the back button…(10 clicks)
  10. Select “Pick-up” or “Delivery” — arrrggghhhhh… I hit the “ORDER NOW” button…. THERE is the “To Go/Catering” and “Pickup/Delivery” radio button groups. and then I am prompted to CONFIRM THE DELIVERY ADDRESS ONE MORE TIME… I click on the ASAP button. Three clicks on this page…
  11. Select your expected time (“ASAP” or select a specific date/time) see above — I can finally see food to order.
  12. Choose your items. Use the left hand navigation bar to help you find your favorite products.–the “aspx” extension on the page was a dead giveaway. OF COURSE the screen doesn’t render in Firefox well (see attached screen shot). I’ll see if I can get through this… (we’re at, I don’t know 15 clicks? more? Lost count…)
  13. When your order is complete: To finalize an order you must click the yellow “Edit/Complete Order” button, and review your order to ensure it is correct.
  14. Then on the next page click the yellow “Proceed to Checkout” button.
  15. The final page will confirm your order has been submitted and have details of your order including restaurant, order type, and expected time/date. — I get to confirm my address one more time!  They want to make damned sure that I’m getting my pizza!

And the number of clicks is:

More than 30.

Below find the menu screenshot:

Another MS developer forgets to test cross-browser functionaliity....

If you’re going to have on-line ordering, knock off the number of screens, knock off the number of clicks Small operations often make usability mistakes, often because they have “weekend” developers, or worse, the management has someone that “has some Internet experience” build the pages or implement some pre-built store. I can’t tell what happened here. It’s just a train wreck.

My suggestion to help would be:

  • Plaster Order now everywhere, with a zip code entry in the “portlet”.
  • At that point you should know where it’s going. The landing page should have the name of the restaurant plus a possible alternate. It should also have one set of radios for catering, etc. GO TO THE FOOD NOW.
  • Choose the food
  • Confirm the order, and have a returning user login or address form with an optional sign up on one page.
  • You now have the order and the address. One page to collect the money with the order posted and back button to get to the order and edit it if need be
  • Enter credit card information and confirm the order. Send the email

Done. Steps eliminated. Here’s a thought. Go through the Amazon order process, new customer , existing customer, etc. They’ve spent millions upon millions of dollars streamlining that process. Just dupe it. You’ll be 90% of the way there. At this point, you’re about 10% of the way there.

Hmmm. There’s a Chinese restaurant across the street…

The Overlapping Schedule Process for Maintenance and Enhancement of Complex Web Properties

Building a Consistent, Predictable and Efficient Environment for Enterprise eCommerce Applications.
 

Predictable Schedules Create Outstanding Teams

When many eCommerce shops first set up, there are usually a few developers wearing many hats; they have access to everything, develop within specific areas and channels, and check in code for deployment as it becomes ready. While this type of development will work as a business starts, it will soon become unmanageable and will result undesired consequences as changes are not integrated, and business priorities are not addressed, or worse.

Predictability and easily enforced processes set all stakeholders within an application free to do their jobs and collaborate at the highest levels possible. With a strong process, planned changes will be scheduled for deployment with a high degree of accuracy. Engineers enjoy complete and accurate requirements, and know what is expected of them throughout each cycle. Quality Assurance will have time to create plans and fully test changes, and Releases to Production will no longer be a nail-biting, all-hands-on-deck stress-fest.

The following proposed process details the steps necessary for day-to-day development, maintenance and enhancements for the IHO/Offer Channels applications. They are exclusive of longer-term enhancements and development requiring multiple-week pulls. Only those issues that may be completed in short periods will applies here,. This is significant because with most mature applications, nearly 75% of all issues encompass this type of development.

Tracking the status of Issues

An Issue Tracking System is a “blog-like” application that allows issues to be tracked throughout the development/release cycle. Its main features include fields to track: Continue reading

Process and Situational Awareness for eCommerce Development

Alignment is everything. For many years managers in the software industry submitted budgets that were unrealistic to Business Unit managers that had no clue as to what to question, what to approve or where to cut. As business has grown up and increased its expectations of IT departments, Development and Infrastructure has also been forced to mature and face the fact that they aren’t an “overhead” cost. This is especially true in eCommerce.

The Best is the enemy of the Good.

I’ve never met an Engineer or Manager of Engineers that didn’t see an infrastructure project as vital to the organization’s ongoing health and stability. I’ve seen (and been) that Manager before. They’ve actually been wrong more than they’ve been right. The reason for this is the lack of a complete picture of the goals of the organization as a whole, the priorities for various Development/Infrastructure (DEV-INF) projects, and the fact that budgeting exists because resources are finite. Sometimes an eCommerce site can limp along for years on a code base that is far from the ideal architecturally, but it may cost far less to maintain and extend it than to upgrade it to the “Next Great Killer Platform” at the cost of revenue-driven projects.

The Holistic view of a Budget.

While all projects will have some value, it’s important to prioritize projects in alignment with the overall organization’s strategy and objectives. There is no use in a complete re-architecture of the site when current demands of Marketing, Consumer Experience and other various Business Units cannot be met. The goal in eCommerce is simple. Keep the business growing, keep the site in “five nines”, and refine the user experience to increase conversion. DEV-INF budgets must play in this ballpark or, as a development leader, all credibility with Business Units will be lost; ultimately will leding to a breakdown in communications between Engineering and Business, which is a crisis in an eCommerce workplace.

Metrics are the key.

Once projects are aligned with Corporate Objectives, it’s vital to show all cost drivers for these expenses. Many times the cost of ongoing maintenance is not factored in, but can be as much as 65% of an overall budget. This is also true for time budgeted for QE/QA. While the individual Engineer writing code may only write 250 lines that finally make it into production in a three-month long project, how many times he/she had to write it, how much time was eaten up managing and checking this code, and finally what documentation, knowledge transfer and future extendibility these 250 lines will have also affect costs. All these things must be taken into consideration.

Budgeting isn’t just all planning. Once the planning is complete, the spending begins. Vital in this aspect is accountability and assessment of performance. Hard, industry-standard metrics exist to gauge the performance of DEV-INF budget items. In eCommerce I’ve found many easily measured values:

  1. Actual vs. Proposed Development times.
  2. Actual vs. Proposed Resources.
  3. Pre-release bugs.
  4. Post-release bugs.
  5. Effects upon site stability and performance.
  6. Did the Project “Do” what the owners said it would do?
  7. Were the expectations of Business Units met, and are these stakeholders satisfied with the results?
  8. Did any problems that come up get handled in appropriate manners?
  9. Were in-place processes broken?

4. Approaches

Approaches to DEV-INF budgeting should be aligned with the current culture and expectations of the Business. They must have significant buy-in by various business stakeholders. If business drivers have “skin in the game” as to line-items in a DEV-INF budget, this automatically give credibility to it and also act as a check to make sure that I’ve done my homework. Many successful organizations use the Consolidated Projects Approach to budgeting and allocation for DEV-INF projects with outstanding success. In a nutshell:

Consolidated Projects List basic points:

  • IT budget planning process starts before the organization’s process.
  • IT managers submit summary project data for consolidation into a single spreadsheet
  • These projects are then sorted and prioritized by DEV-INF managers before submission to the overall business Prioritization Committee.
  • The Prioritization Committee decides how these projects are to be aligned, budgeted and implemented within the entire Organization’s overall Business needs and strategies.

This approach provides Senior Executives with a complete picture of all proposed projects, their costs, and priority ranking; these units will have a “30,000 foot” picture to make a more informed decision. Total project requirements may now be viewed as a single picture to senior management; priorities become a decision factor. No single group can drive pet projects or non-revenue generating development without prioritization or fully understanding what the business impact or opportunity costs involved are.

This process may be extended with “Gate Checks” to assure relevance to the goals of the company as time changes.  This is especially true with larger organizations that may be widely distributed.   Projects can often times have huge scope (ah — to de-scope, another topic!) and can take months of development time.  The needs of a business can change over this period, and any project that is underway should have enough flexibility to move with the times or the business stakeholders or group as a whole should have the gumption to kill or suspend development indefinitely or until such time as solid metrics warrant completion.