Find the link…

I’ve signed up to receive our power bill via email.

So, I get an email telling me our latest bill is now available online.

Here is the page I’m redirected to.

It’s not the bill.  

It’s a landing page full of noise.  

See how long it takes you to find the link to the bill.

(click for larger size)

There are actually two links.  Neither of them exactly jump out at you.  

I never even noticed the link in the top-right until I took this screen shot.  This is not especially surprising as this position is so often used for advertising that people will just block it out.

It’s reasonable to assume that the link would be somewhere in the body of the page, but as you scan that area everything which looks vaguely like a link says “Find out more >”.  More about what, exactly?  

Why don’t they link directly to the bill, I wonder?  

Or even better simply include the important information (e.g. total amount owed and due date?) in the email itself and let me avoid this hassle altogether.

Is online billing about making things easier for customers or creating opportunities for the marketing department?

7 thoughts on “Find the link…”

  1. These things start as 1 and end up as 2.

    Over the next 2 years there will be handwringing about the right way to do this internally and ‘how we’ve talked to customers about it’ (note – talked *to* not observed or talked *with*). And how it hasn’t saved the company money.

    It’s primarily driven by people who want to create websites (hey – did you see my billing website) as opposed to people want to solve problems (hey – did you notice how that thing isn’t there anymore – that was me).

    I think the marketers of FMCG goods (who have to shout all the time) have a lot to answer for as they try and apply these skills in the service industry (which is about being invisible – as you state in your Trade Me manifesto post about being like electricity).

  2. ooh, nasty!

    this really is a classic example of ‘add a really useful service, but bury it amongst a much broader (attempt at)the corporate message’

    personally, i would much prefer a bill hub (a la Aussie BPAY – though that was not without its own usability issues last time i used it)

    if you look at offline, when was the last time you visited all your billers individually to pay them… late 70’s maybe?

    so online’s gotta be in one place for me. banks (payments aggregation – add bill presentment into the mix) and paper bill mailers (already have the data) have the most obvious opportunity, but are rather lethargic on this front. banks also suffer from the same problem as we’re seeing here – the nice clean one-stop see-&-pay gets buried in all the other products.

    perhaps a start-up then?

  3. This is classic corporate behaviour. They talk about commitment to great customer service and then frustate their customers with poor designs and processes.

  4. I tend to look top right for a shortcut of things to do, like the style of seeing Login, Logout, etc up in the top right. After seeing the style of link I then found the second immediately after. I think they have that right.

    Someone told me once that your eyes tend towards the right for navigation more than the left.

    That said, it’s a bloody ugly site that is reminiscent of blood splatter (all that red) in my opinion.

  5. National Bank just did exactly the same thing. Put the online backing link in the top right corner. Its pretty obviously once you have found it, but I swear I stared at that page for close to a minute to find it the first time.

  6. @scott:

    You might be interested in this:

    http://www.virtualhosting.com/blog/2007/scientific-web-design-23-actionable-lessons-from-eye-tracking-studies/

    Also check out the screen shots in this post:

    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html

    Notice how the persistent nav part of the pages (i.e. above the main title on the page) get almost no attention. This is why the top right (above the tabs) is such a dead zone in a page – perfect for utility links like login, help or my account, but crap for important links.

    This is the reason why Trade Me has banners in the top right :-)

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