User Experience

An utterly depressing, but ultimately enlightening example of what not to do when designing an online experience

5 minute read  15 comments

Badly designed software and bad user experience can make the user feel that they are in a Kafkaesque nightmare. Here’s an example that will make your eyes water.

Often when you encounter a bad user experience that is truly awful, so achingly depressing, it sucks the life force from you. You end up dead-eyed and quite unresponsive to loved ones’ concerns.

Badly designed products can do this, especially when it gets in the way of an essential task, and turns into a Kafkaesque nightmare. 

It was with some amazement that I came across this example recently after doing some research into the murky online world of job application pages.

The company in this example uses third party software to manage their candidate applications through the careers page.

This software is not made by a small company, but by a well-known enterprise company. In my experience, ‘Enterprise’ says a lot about quality and lack thereof.   

This is a supreme example of what not to do when creating a product, service or user experience.

It inelegantly sells itself in its own horrific fashion.  

I am not interested in shaming other designers and developers, I have never done so, and do not know who was personally involved in this. As designers, we’ve all had our share of pushing out subpar design, because of time pressures, lack of resources or sheer boredom. Even the ones who love to promise 110% on every project, have messed up. Yes, I know who you are. And some disclosure, I design software in this sphere.

Let’s begin our user ‘journey’

I want to apply for a job at this company. I view their site, who they are and what they do. Interest piqued.

I then view their careers page. Everything looks good. A bright, attractive website. Nice images. I’m feeling motivated to apply for a new job with these fellows.

Step 1

bad user experience

I navigate to the careers page. Alright a bit hard to read, but I can understand it. I click on a job that interests me.


Step 2

bad user experience

I read over the job spec. Many responsibilities, but looks promising. I think I’ll apply.


Step 3

bad user experience

Wait a minute. Is this a different website? I need to create an account?

I’m applying for a job, not joining a dating agency. Not liking this, but I’ll go with it for now.


Step 4

bad user experience

Do my eyes deceive me? What is a bloody Captcha doing here? Empathy is definitely lacking here.

Oh no, is my browser not showing this page correctly? Does that mean there is a better version?


Step 5

bad user experience

At least I only see four steps. At last, it’s giving me some feedback. Next…


Step 6

bad user experience

Are they serious? A user ID? I plough on.


Step 7

bad user experience

Christ on a bicycle! Three required security questions? Is this a test of my endurance or some twisted sense of humour? I plough on.


Step 8

bad user experience

At last some light. I can now preview all the useless information I have filled in.

So what was I doing? I’m really hungry. I’ll just get a cookie.


Step 9

bad user experience

Congratulations! So do I have the job? It’s more like “congratulations on wading through the questions”.

Wait, do I have to log in? LOG IN????


Step 10

bad user experience

Ah, that lovely soothing login screen again. I love grass and it makes me feel as docile as a cow.

I’ve given so much. I must log in.


Step 11

bad user experience

There it is. The job spec again. Didn’t I just apply for this many moons ago? What have I been doing for the last five minutes and thirty-three seconds?

Let’s apply for the sheer hell of it. What could possibly go wrong?


Step 12

bad user experience

I’m panicking now, like a small child being lowered into a swaying boat.

They must be joking? Must I actually fill out this form?

Inputs to the left of me, inputs to the right. I can’t comprehend what is going on here. I might just give up. I’m sure they’re nice people and it’s a great company, but I need to make my dinner. 


Step 13

bad user experience

I must be a masochist. I fill out my details through sheer rage.

Oh, do I have to fill out ‘Notice of rights’ inputs?

Have I missed anything? Not sure. It’s hard to focus in on anything as this page is soooo full of stuff.

I click submit. Ummm. Errors?

Oh stupid me, I forgot to upload my CV. I didn’t see it first time round. 


Step 14

bad user experience 

Wait, where is the submit button gone? Honestly, I saw it there a minute or two ago. Am I going mad? Hallucinating?

I’m waiting.

The button still hasn’t deigned to greet me.

Oh, fuck it! 

Close browser.

Step 15

Make dinner and realise how much I like my job.

  1. Maybe it is just a test of commitment, come on how bad do you want this job? Find the button!

    Enlightening post, and gave me a Wednesday PM chuckle to boot.

  2. Don’t assume that this is all the designer’s fault.

    The designer may very well have argued against many of these steps, but other stakeholders overruled him/her.

    As a designer I’ve often been given non-negotiable requirements which degrade the quality of the user experience. It’s very frustrating.

    • I did write “As designers, we’ve all had our share of pushing out subpar design, because of time pressures, lack of resources or sheer boredom.” But I should have made it more clear that I do think it’s not always the designers’ or developers’ fault.

  3. Thanks for this. I have shared your article with some stakeholders that think ANYONE can do user-centered design.

  4. Wow thats an amazing example of bad design. Nicely found. This should be shown to all students in design college.

  5. Hilarious. Good posts and ver timely as there seems to be a glut of hiring software out there, and most of it is badly designed.

  6. OMG, thank you for that article. Someone had to do it. It describes my pain everytime I have to go under those pages. Funny thing this is always something BIG companies do; my guess is that its run by old drooling IT dinosaurs – the ones that believe 3 secret questions will make your resume so safe no one could open (now THAT’S security!). Also, this scenario must happen very often:
    “Here you go boss, this is the application form you requested for our site.”
    “Too little input fields, triple it like like you mean it, son!”
    “… ok”

    • Yes Guz, I’m not really blaming the developers so much as the management, who are either clueless or just don’t care.

  7. I too have experienced the same sort of thing applying online. One experience of submitting a form was particularly heinous.

    It was the ‘you have an error but I am not giving you the details.’ (figure it out). Eventually, I just left some fields blank. This should not happen. You can easily test your fields.

    I agree that the impression it leaves of the company is much harder to correct. The bad taste doesn’t wash out easily.

    • Yes it seems to be that error checking causes a lot of grief when it comes to these applications. It’s just complete lack of interest on the development side.

  8. Companies who use Taleo are not paying enough attention to their candidates. It is a truly bad and outdated application.

  9. Blame Taleo and thier slippery sales people. They started selling LinkedIn integration YAY but then it didn’t work BOO

    • As a developer who has worked with Linkedin you might want to blame Linkedin. They have been walling their garden off as fast as they can for the last few years. The sad part is before recent leadership changes they had a really nice open API.

      • You’re very right about LinkedIn. It has become an awful product to work with and support is abysmal. That’s what happens when most companies go enterprise. Maybe Microsoft can put a human face on it. Imagine that.

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