Mom Migraine Photo

This article is part of the Mom’s Migraines series exploring some of the countless websites out there that offer poor user experiences and result in many a literal and metaphorical headache. This is one of Tammy’s migraines.  Who is Tammy?



All she wanted were some tennis tickets…

My mom loves tennis. It’s really the only sport she watches. Sure, she’ll watch the odd hockey game, or watch the Olympics every couple years, but tennis is her true passion. For the last few years, she and my Dad have been making the journey to Indian Wells, California to watch the BNP Paribas Open. The event is part of a series of tournaments just below the Grand Slams in terms of prestige and prize money. The event itself is also prestigious, with many players calling it the unofficial “5th Grand Slam”. It’s got it all: amazing facilities, great food, bountiful parking, and the list goes on. If only its website was up to the same standard.

You see, Tammy was trying to use the website to do something fairly simple: buy tickets for 5 days. You’d think that would maybe take 10 minutes? No, in fact it ended up taking her an hour.

Let’s give you a million choices and not tell you what each are.

First, choosing a type of ticket

The process of selecting a ticket starts with a rather dizzying table of ticket prices, which fails to provide details on the different ticket levels. For example, Tammy was confused about the 30% discount, because she was unsure if it was a senior’s discount she might qualify for, or if it was for something else. She thought she could just hover over the column name and it would tell her, but alas it did not. Not only that, but the column headings did not follow her as she scrolled down the page, meaning she kept having to scroll up to see what column she should be looking at.

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Next, actually choosing a ticket

After selecting a type of ticket and then going through a Captcha, Tammy got to a page that asked her to make more choices about her ticket, despite her already selecting the type of ticket within the giant table. She chose 2 tickets, clicked Next and, after selecting specific seats on the next page, was then pushed into the shopping cart.

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Let us help you memorize your credit card number.

The cart is where the frustration really took hold. Tammy wanted tickets for 5 days, yet there was only 1 day of tickets in her cart. She wanted to see an option to “keep shopping” so she could add more tickets to her cart. Instead, continuing with the check out process was the only option given. There wasn’t even a “Back” button. So she had to use her browser’s back button and saw a note on the previous page that there were two tickets in her cart. However, when she selected another ticket for a different day from the table and got to her cart, the new tickets had replaced the old tickets. After spending some time trying to find a way to get multiple days of tickets in her cart, she ended up having to complete the entire check out process 5 times (once for each day of tickets).

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“Extremely frustrating”

So let me tell you, Tammy wasn’t pleased. She described the process as “extremely frustrating.” The tickets had just been released, so she was already in a rush to get good seats. She tried calling a support number, but they were busy.  It took her far longer than it should have. When it came to the cart, in Tammy’s words, “it’d be like going to the grocery store, getting some milk, checking out, going back and getting bread, checking out, and repeating the process over and over again.” All in all the experience left a stain on her impression of a tournament that, up until that moment, she had nothing but good things to say about.


What can we learn from Tammy’s pain?

Don’t overwhelm or confuse users by forcing them to make a selection without giving them all of the information.

The table to choose a day and type of ticket could be overwhelming to users. Not only does it force users to choose between many options, but the website doesn’t provide any explanation of the difference between the types of tickets (what is the 30% discount for?)

 If you’re going to call something a cart, it better damn well act like a cart.

That is, you should be able to keep adding items to your cart so you only need to check out once. If you go back and add tickets for a different day, those tickets shouldn’t replace the ones you had put in it previously.

When pushing users into a cart, there needs to be an option to continue shopping.

I understand the desire to push people to complete a checkout. But if you’re going to force people into viewing a cart, they need to have a way to go back and continue shopping without thinking they might lose their progress by using their browser’s back button.