Yesterday, I wanted to get a cup of tea before I went to work because I have been feeling a little under the weather. I knew there was an Argo Tea on University Place, close to my workplace, so I Googled “Argo Tea” and found myself on their website. And that was about all that I found. Argo Tea’s website is an example of bad design, which can be affirmed using principles from Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things.
Immediately upon viewing the homepage, I could tell that my user model did not match up with the system image, resulting in a poor conceptual model. There is no mention of a menu anywhere on the first screen. I see “Products,” “Shop,” and “Gifts,” but that only led me to believe that this business was more of a retail store than a café. There was very poor visibility, because I had no clue what had to be done to figure out what type of drink I could order from them!
I tried clicking on “Loose Leaf Teas” first, choosing herbal teas. That only brought me to a page where I could buy tea in bulk. I then tried “Locations,” because sometimes menus are specific to their location. I came to a screen where I could hover over various options and a hand icon would pop up. Great, this affordance is indicating that I can click on this and see some kind of result. But nothing happened. The address had already shown up when I hovered over the bubble, so clicking on it essentially did nothing. I got no feedback from that action whatsoever.
I returned to the homepage and checked out the “Products” menu. With so many options on the screen, none of which were clear, there were no constraints telling me what my best course of action would be! I figured I would try “Signature Drinks,” even though I just wanted some tea. This action brought me to a horizontally scrolling group of images, with brief descriptions of the items. This could suffice, but the system image still wasn’t matching up with the user model in my head; a simple menu with lists of items, descriptions, and most importantly, prices. You never know what to expect in New York, and I didn’t want to be paying an arm and a leg for flavored water.
At this point I had had enough, so I returned to Google and searched for “Argo Tea menu,” hoping some other service had listed their menu online. Instead, I found a food menu that was apparently part of Argo Tea’s website, although where it was hiding, I have no idea. This was just a food menu anyway, and I did not want anything to eat. But look! The word “menu” on the upper left! Except that was basically just the same list that has been called “Products” on the home screen.
So I just had to go there and wing it. It took them forever to make my drink! But that’s another story. Overall, the website offered no constraints pointing me to the proper option because there were so many places to click! This led to a lack of visibility, and the only affordance I could find was a bad one! The only positive is that when I expected a drop-down menu to open, one opened, so I did get immediate feedback from all of those menus. But there was no drink menu to be found! On the website of a café! I would imagine I am not the only person with a user model that wasn’t found anywhere in the actual system.