Guest post from Martina Galach MSC Human Centered Systems, of Empowered Systems
The importance of User Experience. Case Study: Online Dating.
Type in ‘online dating’ into Google. 72,700,000 results in 0.14 second. Surprised? I am not. We are so busy and consumed with careers nowadays that dating and meeting people in places such as museums or cafes seems quite old fashioned and time consuming. It only takes few clicks to see ‘what’s out there’ – ready for you to check them out and to contact them for a quick lunch date or drinks after work. There are so many sites to choose from depending on people you would like to meet – people in uniforms? City Professionals? Looking for serious relationships? Sites dedicated to Asian dating? The Internet offers it all. Online dating industry is worth million of pounds. After my little Google browse I decided to pick a few sites to check them out and see if they live up to the expectations.
After clicking through the 5 most popular sites (according to Google ranking) I have to say some of them really disappointed me in the way they were presenting themselves. Bad interface design, difficulties in navigation, ugly colour schemes and limited functionality. Not to mention endless forms to fill in about yourself and your ‘dream man’ and in the end you get access to all functions for a premium. Dating sites are no different from any other online business sites – they have to be presentable and engaging, so why have they been overlooked by the designers and developers? If it’s a business that is supposed to bring revenue – apart from matching people (obviously) then you would expect it to be ‘all singing all dancing’ to attract potential singles (customers). You wouldn’t expect amazon.co.uk to be down or have connectivity issues, or not to be able to place an item on ebay ‘right here right now ‘– well sadly to say some of these dating sites have had ‘issues’ conflicting with what makes a quality site.
Some of them also offer mobile phone apps to access your profile and messages, but it seems there is a lot of room for improvement here as well. Mobile website and app design principles have been developed and published for a reason. I downloaded one app to my iPhone and have to say it really put me off to using the site – even on my PC. The app was crashing a lot, couldn’t connect to the server at busy times (and I don’t blame my carrier for the lack of connection as everything else worked perfectly), or it would connect but didn’t display anything on my screen. Do I really want to pay x amount of my hard earned cash a month to be let down so many times when am eager to find my perfect man and am waiting for a message to come through? I felt I have wasted a lot of time waiting. I clicked to see who would actually put themselves there – I have to say I saw few interesting faces but is it worth the hassle? Not to mention remarketing, once searched for love online I was bombarded by dating ads wherever I surfed for the rest of the day reminding me that my prince charming was only a click (and direct debit) away.
In end I think I would rather make a trip to that museum or an exhibition….
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