Don’t make things harder for users, please

(Snark Alert: I have nothing against AngelList, maybe some comes out here as I want to like the product, but can’t)

I understand that AngelList adds value to entrepreneurs. But somehow I find the experience missing something. Recently, I noticed that at many places, the font colors do not meet accessibility criteria of contrast.

Top Bar.png
AngelList top bar (left side), Dec 2018

According to accessibility guidelines, the ratio should be 4.5:1. From Apple’s guidelines:

Strive for a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1, although 7:1 is preferred because it meets more stringent accessibility standards.

For AngelList, this ratio is 2.85:1. Much less than the minimum.

And just to check a competing site, the contrast ratio on LinkedIn top bar is 10.66:1. Quite above the recommendation of 7:1.

LinkedIn Bar
LinkedIn top bar, Dec 2018

AngelList makes the site hard to read for its users. And while I do not know the numbers, I strongly suspect the usage/engagement numbers would increase if they make the site easier to read – just turn up the contrast a little.

I could go on about accessibility, but you can make things harder more subtly. And thus harm your product metrics. And again the example happens to be AngelList.

I keep noting how the BJ Fogg model can both explain things and guide how to do them better. I mentioned it a few days ago in make things easier. While the model has quite a few insights, the core is this – the easier something is to do, the more likely that someone will do it. That’s it.

Let’s see a case where AngelList could do better if they applied it.

Today I happened to look at the site, and found a profile, as a recommended connection.

Connect Flow

I thought the button ‘Connect’ will do the job, and ‘Connect’ me to the guy. I didn’t really know him, but we have 4 mutual connections, and he was recommended, so why not? This is where the story should have ended. I press the button, and the button does what it tells it does.

But no.

We see a message that the connection is added, but I need to ‘Confirm’, but first, I should maybe tell AngelList how do I know him. Well, no harm in clicking that button, right?


Image result for my eyes gif phoebe

No less than FOURTEEN possible relationships? And ‘investee‘?

Image result for that's not even a word gif
Yes, ‘investee’ is indeed not a word in the Oxford dictionary

And this is where they lost me. I did not confirm and exited the flow. If I was really motivated to add the guy, of course I would have done a few more clicks.

But when the motivation is low, things need to be easier. From the Fogg model:

Image source

I am the networking type, and I am OK with adding people whom I don’t really know. But I am not super into adding them.

I logged onto the site for something else, just saw the ‘recommendation’ and almost subconsciously clicked the ‘Connect’ button (they did this well, giving me a prompt for a task I didn’t really intend to do). And I would have connected, if that was the end of it. Maybe there could be a dialog later on helping me define my relationship with the person.

Maybe AngelList is missing out on growing the user network because of this small (but not so small) thing.

This model also explains the power of defaults. From this article:

How gullible are Web users? Sadly, the answer seems to be “very.”

Professor Thorsten Joachims and colleagues at Cornell University conducted a study of search engines. Among other things, their study examined the links users followed on the SERP (search engine results page). They found that 42% of users clicked the top search hit, and 8% of users clicked the second hit. So far, no news. Many previous studies, including my own, have shown that the top few entries in search listings get the preponderance of clicks and that the number one hit gets vastly more clicks than anything else.

What is interesting is the researchers’ second test, wherein they secretly fed the search results through a script before displaying them to users. This script swapped the order of the top two search hits. In other words, what was originally the number two entry in the search engine’s prioritization ended up on top, and the top entry was relegated to second place.

In this swapped condition, users still clicked on the top entry 34% of the time and on the second hit 12% of the time.

In other words, most people, most of the time, go with the easier option. Design your product with that in mind and more people will use it.

2 thoughts on “Don’t make things harder for users, please

  1. Pingback: Taking ease too far – Curated Intelligence

  2. Pingback: Delicious ! The sound and dance of addiction – Curated Intelligence

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