Category Archives: bad user experiences

Why Not Use Subway Turnstiles?

What does it end up costing every time they have to shut down an airport terminal, cancel all the flights, and re-screen all the passengers because some dumbass went in through the out door?

What do these subway exit turnstiles cost to install? They’re in every subway station in the free world, pretty much, so they can’t be that outrageous.

Just saying.

(Online research still sucks. How much more can I say about that?)



Filed under abject stupidity, bad user experiences, open questions

How Not To Link

This has nothing to do with research, and I’ve probably complained about this before, but it really aggravates me every time I see it:


Possibly not obvious from the screengrab, especially because the arrow gets left out: if you click the URL in the story, you go to a New York Times page that uselessly lists all their articles about Facebook. Just in case anyone from the world of old media is reading this and wants to know what they should have done: LINK TO MS. SALAHI’S FACEBOOK PAGE.

God, how is this still so difficult?

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Filed under abject stupidity, bad user experiences, New York Times, non-research, the web is a visual medium

How Many Yards Do You Commute To Work, And Other Badly-Measured Intervals.

I’m really sorry I’ve been so dormant lately.  I don’t really have an excuse, other than that I’ve been busy enough with other things that I haven’t been taking many online surveys, and as a result, I haven’t had anything to post.

Today, though, that changes. Hopefully for good? We’ll see.

So I watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother at just now, and following it, they gave me a survey from Magid about my use of streaming video, peer-to-peer sharing, and so on. I’ve actually been getting a lot of TV via the internet lately — there’s just too much on at the same time on Thursdays, and I’ve been forced to torrent or use Hulu to watch at least some of it, since my DVR can only do two things at a time, and there seem to be THREE things on simultaneously from 8:00 to 10:00 those nights. Some weeks I grab torrents, others I use Hulu — it mostly depends on when I’ll be watching, because I have kids, and I find it much easier to watch TV with closed captions when they’re around, since they’re noisy little things. If I’ll be watching when they’re home, I often use Hulu; if they’re out or asleep, I’ll often get the torrents, which are usually better quality, and are usually able to be streamed to my TV, too.

Anyway, the point here is to share this incredibly ill-conceived question, which was the one really badly thought-out item in an otherwise pretty solid survey:

quarter hour

Really? You want me to think about how much TV I watch in 15-minute increments? Why on earth would you think this was the right way to ask this question? I had to do MATH to answer the question, counting up the number of hours of TV I watch and multiplying by 4, which might not even be an obvious option to every respondent. The strangest thing is, the 15-minute increment makes no sense in either context. Online versions of TV shows aren’t ever in 15 minute formats — half hour sitcoms run around 22 minutes, and hour dramas are around 44 — and the other things people watch online, like movie trailers and clips of people being idiots on YouTube are much shorter.

I don’t get it. Which I suppose isn’t unusual.


Filed under answer choices, bad user experiences, Market Research, quality of responses, web research

Straightlining vs. Answering Your Stupid Question Honestly

OK, this is something I hadn’t thought of before.

When I’m staring at a bad survey question — asking me to compare two absolutely identical companies in a matrix, for instance — my tendency is to do this:

They’re equal. There’s no difference between Visa and MasterCard in my mind. Discover and American Express, those are different, both from one another and from these two brands, but Visa and MasterCard might as well just merge, as far as I’m concerned. Of course, there’s no way to provide that answer in the framework provided here, so I decided to simply give each company a score of “5” for each item. That seemed to get the message across, as far as I was concerned. Of course, as soon as I clicked the button, I got booted, with the same generic non-qualified message you get when you tell them you don’t have kids or haven’t seen a movie in the past two months or whatever it is. We all know the truth: they booted me for straightlining.

Which I wasn’t.

At the very least, wouldn’t it be smarter to keep me in and see what the rest of my answers looked like? With the amount of amply-documented badly designed questionnaires out there, shouldn’t we maybe consider that a respondent will occasionally need to do something to get around a poorly framed question, or an item that simply doesn’t apply to them?

Simply ending the survey as soon as someone gives all items on a page the same value seems both too simplistic and too drastic a solution to me.


Filed under answer choices, bad user experiences, data quality, Greenfield, Market Research, matrixes make me cry, web research

Another Fine Matrix

First, look at this full-size. See how there are 14 brands of cat food going across the top? I already told it I’d never heard of five of them, and yet here they all are again. It’s one thing to ask me if I’ve ever heard of a brand and to then, even if I haven’t, show me an ad for the brand and ask if I’ve seen that ad — I very well could have forgotten about it, or misremembered what brand it was for.

This is just stupid…

matrix from hell big

Worse, though, it’s endless. Here’s a reduced-size capture so you can see how long it is:

matrix from hell

This is what I’m referring to in the comments on Gary Langer’ post here — what the hell sort of non-representative person is going to sit through this? This kind of garbage really is the cancer that is killing market research. Stop pulling this crap, and then go and worry some more about probability samples.


Filed under bad user experiences, Greenfield, Market Research, matrixes make me cry, The cancer that is killing market research, web research

Needs Moar Choices.


Seriously? Shouldn’t they also have broken out high school by year, or something? Maybe included a radio button for each individual year from kindergarten through law school? No, really, I just can’t imagine how such fine distinctions are useful to anyone. Is someone really looking at this and saying, “Wow, the 7 respondents with some advanced degree work are slightly more likely to say x than the 11 respondents who are currently in advanced degree work! Fascinating! Oh, wait, the margin of error is +/- 37.8%.”

I get that there’s value in collecting more, not less data; I’m a firm believer in asking respondents for their actual ages, actually, instead of for a range — because when you have the actual data, you can put it back together in whatever groupings you want, which may not be the groupings you think make sense before you see the results — but this here is just a mess.

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Filed under answer choices, bad user experiences, Market Research, The cancer that is killing market research, web research

Blank = Zero

Can we please just all agree that blank = zero?

Greenfield, unsurprisingly:


Come on, guys. Stop making things hard for respondents. It’s not like you have enough of them to begin with.


Filed under answer choices, bad user experiences, Market Research, the web is a visual medium, web research