Bad usability: When an important call to action is ‘hidden’

It’s a busy day, you click on a link to a survey you know you need to complete. Your heart sinks as the first page appears and 10 not so simple to answer questions appear, and you know there are even more to go judging bynthe progress indicator.

You persevere. Your New Year resolution is to stop procrastinating and to just get on with things. Over 20 minutes in, your phone vibrates. It’s Jenny, “are you nearly at the cinema?”. Oh no! You haven’t left the house yet. Do you leave the page open and hope you don’t loose your progress or is there another way? Whilst putting your coat on and texting Jenny back (totally lying saying “on my way”) you half heartily search the page for a way to save your progress.  You run out the door never knowing if that 20 minutes of effort will be wasted as the page could time out, the power may go off or the cat could sit on your keyboard while you’re away.

It was there all along, but why did you miss it?

bad link usability example

The action to save your progress is quite ‘hidden’ on the page. I don’t mean in a white text on a white background kind of way, but hidden in this long sentence. The placement of the action is not necessarily wrong, it’s near the primary action to “Continue” so you’re already looking in that area. However, at a glance the text can be assumed to be some sort of T&Cs text which you’re not searching for so your amazing brain spam filter tells you to ignore it and not read the text. As you scan the page looking for a save action, your brain also looks for visual queues and patterns to help find clickable actions. There is no link style applied to the action so it’s impossible to know where to click or to recognise this as an action when scanning the page.

What should it look like?

Adding a link style such as a clear underline on the action would be a start but really the action never needed to be a convoluted sentence in the first place. A simple “Save your progress” button or styled link would have helped more people. It also didn’t need the action “click here” applied to it as the use of a verb combined with the styling communicates that this is a action.

What might this do for survey completion?

You get back from the cinema quite late, you realise the page timed out while you were away so you go to bed annoyed that you wasted all that time. If you’re still motivated enough to go back and start again the next day, are you going to be in the right frame of mind to give the questions the same consideration as you did previously? Very unlikely unless the reward/motivation is high enough to encourage you.

Or quite likely, you wouldn’t come back and your valuable feedback/information would never be shared 😦