Usability and a “cool” user experience

Sound advice from my colleague Rob Enslin to our teams. Hope they will follow it!

It’s Monday morning, I’ve just got into the office and trawling through the spam. I come across an article in a regular marketing-lead newsletter about Halfords adopting social media technologies to generate user-generated content for their website. The reason – to engage with their users to better understand their needs and behaviors and respond accordingly. Sounds perfect! I start to think about how we could relate in our B2B exhibitions business and how it could benefit us. Then I wonder what software Halfords used – Bazaarvoice. So, I Google it and visit their website (

Whilst browsing the website it’s apparent that these guys know what they’re doing when it comes to designing web interfaces. Their website hints strongly at a web 2.0 style. I decide I’d like to stay updated with their news and developments so I locate their sign-up box on the home page (no clicking to another page as is quite often the case). The sign-up box is not overly complicated and simply says: ‘enter email’. I enter my email address and click ‘subscribe’.

 Here’s the real smart bit

“While it may seem like just another sign-up page there are a few things worth noting here:

  1. My email address is carried over from the sign-up form box to remind me of my email address and instill confidence in the process
  2. The updates options are varied: Email. Skype, AOL, Twitter (public), MSN, Twitter (private) and Yahoo!.
  3. The obvious ‘what do I do now?’ Subscribe me button.

“While the smart bits don’t seem obvious or groundbreaking they are simple steps and rules and ensure the process is dead simple. Steve Krug wrote a book: “Don’t make me think!” where he dedicates an entire book on ensuring all interactions do not make you have to think at all.

 The Email

“As I flick across to my email I find, as if by magic, a ‘Confirmation of registration’ known as a double opt-in subscription. When harvesting email subscribers, list quality is all important.





Double opt-in ensures the list is high quality: users really DO want the email, unsolicited subscribing (spamming) is avoided and users email address ARE correct.

The confirmation page

After my double opt-in subscription is all done and dusted my subscription is confirmed as active. What I like about this page is that I’m not simply sent to a ‘dead-end’ page I’m sent to a page which gives me more options in the form of ‘Next Steps’ so ensuring I never get to a dead-end. I’m now engaged in a loop with the website / product and again NOT having to think what to do next (Steve Krug’s book!)

Note too that other information like when I’ll start receiving updates and how to unsubscribe are also there. This is simply GOOD PRACTICE. We should all be doing something similar.


Got anything to say? If you have any comments drop me a line“.

Rob Enslin


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