Thursday, May 2, 2013

How hard can it be to order a take away ?


Imagine this scenario. A chap about to leave the office and his daughter rings suggesting they have a XXXXX (name obscured to protect the innocent - but it's a major, high street, unique, UK brand with eastern food) take away. Great idea. So they get to discuss what they want and the chap goes online to look at a menu to confirm that he can remember the name of what he wants.

He Googles XXXXXX. Straight there, looks for menu on the home page doesn't find it, gets distracted by a phone call and by the time he returns to the website, the homepage is all about sharing XXXXXX on social media. No item with "menu" on it, this is after all a restaurant. He clicks the "our food"  item in the navigation and lands on a filler page with some blather about the restaurants. He then  clicks "browse our dishes". There is some success but not much. Four odd looking drinks are displayed and a plate for food, "is that it?" he thinks. Naturally he scrolls with the mouse wheel, not much happens but at least he can see the items names which have previously been obscured by the cookie notice (which at this stage he can't be bothered to accept).

Counter-intuitively there are two tiny buttons at the top far right of the food photos. Curious he mouse's over them to see what they mean - no help there. So he clicks one and hey presto the display turns into a normal scrollable list - with all the food on. Success! He finds his dish, but only after clicking on a few items as the descriptions are not complete in the list. This turns out to be a journey in it's own right. Going back to the list to look at other items displays the original four items with no scrolling. Round and round he goes until food is finally chosen.

So he has finally found the two items to order, clicking on the first he clicks "order take-out", (what happened to "take away"?) naively expecting some kind of shopping cart, only to be faced with another useless page telling him how simple it is to use and going on and on about the mobile app (which is weird because he's on his mac). Persisting, he clicks the link to order take-out (wasn't that what the last link was for?) and now is faced with a form to choose his store, bored but not wishing to let his daughter down he chooses. Then another page appears amusingly entitled "lets begin", (he thought he had ages ago) the sole purpose of this page is to select a pick-up time. Now there is a page asking "how would you like to order" offering to browse the menu (wasn't he there a while ago?) or use super quick ordering (is that super quick from now on or super quick from the beginning of the web site ?). Foolishly he chooses browse the menu, big mistake. Now the the products are ordered into tabs by type and it takes clicking and scrolling through four tabs to find the first dish.

Finally he is ready to check out, but no, no such thing as simple checkout you have to register first. Any sensible ecommerce site allows register-less buying. Frustrated he picks up the phone and dials the local restaurant to try and order old school.......

There must be a better way.

For me this is a classic case of form over function, so easily avoided if clear objectives of the site are mapped out before design starts. With such an excellent brand as XXXXXX one would think that, if you want to promote take away, there must be a much easier way to enable visitors to do it. Perhaps part of the problem is that XXXXXX is a franchise and there is something different about all the restaurants which forces this to happen. I am not sure it's a great idea to force odd processes on visitors.

Side note: The cookie message.

Some time later, curious he goes to the mobile site, this is much much worse, more than half the screen is obscured by the cookie message which is on top of the web site and there is no noticeable menu except a silly reverse ^ top right. It's difficult to click, but reveals a menu, but it's difficult to scroll through the menu options with  the damn cookie message in the way - which by now he  is determined not to accept.

This cookie thing is annoying, so it's worth a look. IMHO this is uncompliant with the legislation, basically it says they have updated their legal and privacy policies to be in line with eu legislation.  When you click on the links you don't actually go to the cookie policy. The message on the annoying overlay states "find out about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our website", hunting around there is no description of the cookies and what they do.

The rules are this

  • "6 (1) Subject to paragraph (4), a person shall not store or gain access to information stored, in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user unless the requirements of paragraph (2) are met
  • (2) The requirements are that the subscriber or user of that terminal equipment--
    • (a) is provided with clear and comprehensive information about the purposes of the storage of, or access to, that information; and
    • (b) has given his or her consent.
  • (3) Where an electronic communications network is used by the same person to store or access information in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user on more than one occasion, it is sufficient for the purposes of this regulation that the requirements of paragraph (2) are met in respect of the initial use.
  • “(3A) For the purposes of paragraph (2), consent may be signified by a subscriber who amends or sets controls on the Internet browser which the subscriber uses or by using another application or programme to signify consent.
  • (4) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to the technical storage of, or access to, information--
    • (a) for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network; or
    • (b) where such storage or access is strictly necessary for the provision"


Looking in the cookies set, you notice that XXXXXX are setting 8 cookies before they have consent, 6 of these are tracking and analytics cookies. Don't get me wrong I am all in favour of web analytics, but a site really shouldn't claim it is compliant where it clearly isn't and doing it in such a silly way shows no instinct for usability.

It doesn't take a lot to implement a decent cookie warning and permission system (BT being a great example) , especially one that doesn't annoy the hell out of you and get in the way until you accept. Bullying visitors to accept your cookies by getting in the way, is probably a sure fire way of annoying customers - or maybe that's just me.

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