Bad User Experience

by Thomas Brady

I’ve had a long week of bad user experience, and it’s starting to really get to me.

DPS. On a Monday. What was I thinking? Got my motorcycle license. After some effort. Where to start? I got there just in time to be the last person in line within the building. In other words, the poor sap behind me had to stand outside in the heat. Summer break has started, and there were lots of clearasil users in the room.

I spoke to the clerk, got a number, and took a seat. There was a TV, dialed into some gawd-awful afternoon talkshow (an homage to Mr. Springer). My ticket said “B224.” The current three tickets being served were for “A251,” “A254,” and “A261.” Odd. For a number of reasons. Where did it reset? Why did I have a B? Was I in the right room? I was forced to talk to the clerk again to quiet my concerns. Indeed, it was the right room.

I waited there about an hour. 

The first thing I noticed as I approached the counter I had wait so long to approach was a tiny sign reading “CASH & CHECK ONLY - NO CREDIT CARDS.” 

Why no sign in the room I spent an hour in? I could have walked to the nearest ATM then rather than now. Thankfully I didn’t have to get in line again fifteen minutes later, when I returned with cash. The nearby ATM got my $3 fee.

Rewind to a couple hours earlier. My wife is at the tax assessor’s office (getting a title for my moped). Guess how she paid them. Credit card. Same local government, much better service. They charged her $3 for the convenience of using the card, just like the ATM near the DPS charged me for convenience. The DPS could have gotten that $3 to cover the fees they’re trying to avoid by not accepting credit cards. Stupid.

DPS. Accept credit cards. Charge $3. Hell, charge $5. Use the extra money to employ a couple more people. If you can move people through your offices a little faster, more people will actually use your services, rather than putting it off until they get a ticket.

So, with new license (well, a temporary, anyway), insurance, inspection, and registration in had I headed to the court house for my court date. The officer who pulled me over - yes, on my moped… I’ll give you a moment - a month ago told me that getting all of those before the “court date” would mean getting all those citations dismissed.

Well, he has clearly never been ticketed. I did not have a court date. I had a court house appointment with another clerk at the end of another long wait with a number. “A174” this time. The clerk explained that she could only dismiss my registration, and nothing else, because I didn’t have the license or insurance on the day of the citation, and because the inspection paperwork I was given was not good enough. Never mind that the registration paperwork was hours old, and therefore also not present at the time of the citation. The other piece of paperwork the inspection office gave me, you see, was kept by the tax assessor who needed to see it in order to give me a title. Showing said title, though, was not good enough for the court house clerk.

Texas Agencies. Use your computers. Get a shared database. Stop asking me for the same paperwork in every office, and keeping my originals every time I hand them over.

Then there’s stuff like this:

This is Google Reader. As you can see, I have selected “All Items” in the left-hand navigation. When I have unread items, they’ll show here. In this case (which is frequent), I have read everything, so I’m told “Your reading list has no unread items.”


But what’s that link below that? It reads “View all items.” But isn’t that where I am? I clicked something called “All items” to get here, so what could you possibly offer me? Lo and behold, clicking the link shows me… all my items. Like all of them: every one I’ve ever had and marked as “read.” At this point I realize, “Oh, so ‘All items’ over there in the nav should really be ‘Unread items.’”

Oh, and my moped doesn’t have a gas gauge. Why do that? How hard could adding a gauge be?

If you’ve read this far, I assume it’s because you’re my wife or my stalker. In the former case, “Hi, babe. I love you!” In the latter case, guess what! I accepted a new job today! Doing User Experience Design! I’m stoked.

So expect to see more posts like this (though probably not as long) in the future.