“Hopelessly confusing and opaque” The Value of Testing Your Systems

Last month Kona Impact ordered some expensive equipment from a large, very well known copier company. We received an invoice and were happy to see that we could pay online. We would not have to write a check, prepare an envelope and hope that it got from here to there. Having just received a payment made from a customer that took two months to go across town via USPS, we’re happy to pay online whenever we could.

First, I had to make an account. Then I had to confirm my email address. So far so good. Then I had to find where to pay the invoice. I looked and looked. Maybe it was under “Account” Nope. Maybe it was under “Order”. Nope. I spent over 20 minutes looking under every menu to see where I could pay a several thousand dollar invoice. I gave up. I wrote a check and put it in an envelope, knowing that it could take a week or more to arrive.

My question to the company is this: Has anyone in management, customer support or accounts payable tested or used your website?

confused concept

This should be fundamental for anyone who has a website. Go on the website and try to do everything your customer would conceivably try to do.

If you have an e-commerce website, place an order, beginning to end, at least twice a year. Is the process smooth? Are there places where you could make the process clearer and simpler for your customers?

Review all the text on your website at least twice a year. Is it comprehensive? Is it still applicable? Are you missing anything new? Does it read well?

If there is a contact form on your website, try it at least twice a year. Do it work as intended?

You should also have someone who has not used the website place test orders, search for key information and make contact through the website.
I did reply to the copier company reply to the invoice email and simply said that I had to mail the check because, despite great effort, their online payment system did not work for me. I couldn’t come up with anything better than, “I tried to pay online but your system was hopelessly confusing and opaque.”  I would strongly encourage the Accounts Payable department to spend some time trying to use their own system because if they did, they could work on making it clear and transparent.

Testing a website should be a regularly scheduled task. You don’t know what you don’t know, and only through testing will you figure it out.