When running a website, its important to make sure that the user can achieve their goal with the minimal fuss. This is especially important if you are selling, or trying to sell, a commercial service. I recently had to use Zoomerang.com, a survey site, and had a few notes about the user experience. As you’ll remember, I don’t rant often…
I’m in the process of designing a GPS game, and am currently discovering the functional requirements for the project. As UX practitioners, we know that involving the user is of critical importance at this stage, hence we designed a questionnaire to establish peoples experience, and perception of GPS games, and what they’d like a GPS game to be like. (linked here)
When at university, our internet access goes through a proxy server, which blocks unsuitable content. For some reason, this includes surveymonkey.com, a site I’ve used a few times in the past to construct online surveys. Interestingly, the ‘site blocked’ dialogue said “for survey sites, try zoomerang.com”. However, when I search for some hardcore action, it never gives me alternate suggestions for that. Have I uncovered a conspiracy? Nonetheless, I followed the link.
And so I ended up on zoomerang.com. Being fair, there is one key advantage to zoomerang which immediately put me in a good mood. On surveymonkey, for a free account, you are limited to ten questions. On Zoomerang, you can ask 30 questions before you have to pay. This meant we didn’t have to redo, or concatenate our questions, and made me smile inside
Problems with Zoomerang.com
This goodwill was shortlived, when I tried to use the site to implement my questionnaire. Heres why:
- The workflow isn’t clear when making a survey, and so I entirely missed the step where you add your questions. Clicking through the process actually caused me publish a blank questionnaire. Which wouldn’t be a problem, except…
- …You can’t edit an existing survey. Once its published, you cannot add/remove/change questions. Surveymonkey allows this. So I was stuck with my blank survey, and had to start again from scratch.
- Having figured out how to add questions, I got started, and selected “insert question”. It added a header, which then had to be changed to type question. I guessed that was because it was my first item, but no, it always defaults to inserting a header (odd, since you’d only need 1 per page, whereas you’d need multiple questions).
- So I finally got to add a question, and this is when the terribleness of the design struck me. I selected a question where a radio button would select from a number of answers, and typed in my list of 15 or so alternative answers into a rich text field. I hit submit, and … got an error, saying “answers can only be 1000 characters, including HTML”, and even worse…
- …It deleted the data I had entered in that field. All 15 answers. This is a critical failure of any system, since the data a user inputs should be considered sacred.
- There was no counter telling me how many characters I had entered, so I had to retry a few times. Eventually I realised that I could only enter 5 potential one word answers before it’d error that I was over 1000 characters. That had to be a mistake? I investigated further…
- …Looking at the HTML, it turned out that the rich text editor was writing rubbish html. At the start of each answer, it’d add needless style tags, often multiple times. Heres an example of the HTML it generated for my one word answer “complicated”
<p><span style=”font-family: Arial; color: #000000; font-size: small;”><span style=”font-family: Arial; color: #000000; font-size: small;”><span style=”font-family: Arial; color: #000000; font-size: small;”>Complicated</span></span></span></p>
- …no wonder it was hitting the character limit after 4 or 5 words. I had to manually enter the html for all the possible answers, just so I could get round this.
- My last fault with zoomerang.com is just a suspicion. I look after my email accounts, and so have never received spam in my current primary address. After signing up for zoomerang last week, I received my first random spam email. Might just be a coincidence, but I didn’t sign up for anything else that week!
How to fix zoomerang.com
To improve their user experience, they should look at red-routing the goals the user needs to achieve:
- Make the progression through survey design clearer, highlighting which step questions are added in
- Also make it clear how far through the design process you are, and what steps remain
- Restrict what the user can do, so they cannot post a blank questionnaire. Its obvious if they are about to do this that they’ve made a mistake, tell them!
- Don’t make question types default to “header”. Surely users will only use this type once at most, whereas they’re going to have more than one question on the questionnaire. Make it default to that!
- Fix the WYSIWYG code generator, so that the user doesn’t have to manually code the answers in HTML. A lot of user’s would get stuck at this point!
- Don’t send me spam!
And what can you do, until these fixes are made? Use surveymonkey.com. Or, if you’ve found anything better, leave a comment and let me know!