– Major Link as part of image. Usability Issue?

September 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: UX / UI 

Some people today received an email from Home Depot advising them of the payment hack.

The email then advised them to visit the website to take advantage of 12 months of identity protection.

However Home Depot seem to miss the boat on making the information very easy to find. A basic usability issue. I presume they did not include the link in the email to avoid hackers sending out spoof emails that would then take the customer to a hacker’s site that looks like Home Depot. Still hackers can opt to do that anyway with their emails.

Home Depot instead placed the link as part of the main image on their web site. Putting links as part of images can cause them to be missed if users are used to using menus on your site. The colors of this major link did also not tie in with their other links. If the mouse is hovering over any of the links on the left, the image on the right completely disappears.

By placing the link inside of the image instead of at the very top, it also leads the rectangular box to look like part of the image and the image does not tie in with the subject leading to additional confusion.

Between the email not explaining where to find the link (and supplying false leads) and the method of displaying the link I think they missed the mark on usability.

However on a very good point they made the whole image clickable.


You can learn more about the identity protection services and how to sign up for them at
The email text sent to customers with the false leads. Refers users to FAQS straight away, but that does not contain the link at the time this post was researched. Would have been nice if they had just said to click the main image on the home page.
For more information, please visit our website where you’ll find frequently asked questions, helpful tips, our Important Customer Notice, and information about how to take advantage of the free identity protection services, including credit monitoring. Should you have questions regarding the authenticity of this email or any additional questions over the coming days and weeks, please call 1-800-HOMEDEPOT.            






Lead Business Analysts need to maintain authority in communication

When working with clients, it is important that your role as a Business Analyst is not degraded.

In my last post, I talked about how Business Analysts are involved with negotiation. Part of negotiation is maintaining a tight control on communication so that mixed messages are not communicated that can lead to misunderstandings of roles / responsibilities.

Never allow someone on the development / production team (builders of solutions / project managers etc.) to contradict a statement that you have made to the users of your products / lines of business that you are doing the analysis for. It is fine for the development / production team to make suggestions on changes with you personally so that you can craft a response to share with your users / lines of business that does not alter your perceived position.

If the communication is not managed, then the users / lines of business can start to wonder if you are the person they need to be talking with since others can present statements that make them seem as if they have the final say on what is analyzed. Nobody wants to waste time talking to the assistant. If others can contradict you, it makes your role seem like the assistant role. You will then find that people will make themselves less available to talk with you or will question your ability to do your job because they perceive someone else as being the lead.

Make sure therefore that all understand the rules of communication after you have presented information to your users / lines of business.

Negotiation benefits of defining Risks.

Negotiation is an important part of the work I do and sometimes the clients I work with are stuck in the mud when it comes to accepting progress.

When a client refuses to move on after the benefits of the new product / solution are explained, then I move at them with the risks.

Simply put, I document the risks of staying with the existing option and get them to accept that they are willing to live with those risks.

Purpose of the exercise is to make the client think about their current approach from their point of view, not with me trying to sell them on it. If the client has managers further up the food chain, and they are advised of risks being present they also help to put pressure on the hold outs to think carefully about their approach.

Usually after a few days of discussion on the client’s side around the risks, the client is willing to adopt some part if not all of the new product / solution. Even if they do not adopt, I have not wasted my time negotiating against a brick wall.

Products replacing humans do not always need to be faster than the humans replaced

September 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Business Analyst Skills, ROI 

If your product is going to replace a human in a work role, it does not need to do the work faster than the human it replaces if there is currently a wait time or reliability issue involved with the human role it replaces.

Examples of where you can see this today in current society:

1 – Elevators – most standard tall buildings have somewhat dumb elevator control systems that take no account of the number of people in the elevator or where they are going. Contrast this with the days of when elevators were controlled by humans and they were much more efficient in getting to their destination.

  • Elevator was full, the operator did not stop at floors to pick up new people but instead emptied the elevator out first.
  • When letting people off on a floor, they would ask anyone waiting for an elevator where they were going to see if it made sense to jump on their elevator or wait for the next one.

However, if for any reason there was a shortage of human elevator operators, then effectively the elevator had to be taken out of service. By removing the human element, there is now less of a chance of the elevator being taken out of service thus reducing the potential wait.

2 – Self check out – have been springing up in stores all over the place. One employee can now monitor dozens of check outs that the customer uses. There is no way I can check out as fast as a seasoned cashier but I am now less likely to have to wait for a cashier and this reduction in wait is the benefit.

There is one caution to this story however. As time passes, people are going to remember less the benefit of the slower solution which leaves the market open for a company to invent a new product that works faster than your product. Bit by bit, elevator systems are becoming more sophisticated which means as companies look to replace their aging systems, the old benchmark of performance may no longer be good enough. I can see in a few years where the mere fact of me scanning a product at a self checkout will be replaced by RFID tags inside my cart that automatically scan. Eventually it may even get to the point that I do not even go in a store but instead pick my items up at a terminal outside.

Looking at the grocery store today, I can see in the near future where the human shelf stackers could easily be replaced by a warehouse robot that did the job. That way the company would no longer be dependent on humans to do the work.

UX, UI and Usability – 3 Components that affect Product Greatness

Today I am going to discuss the Hot Topic of User Interaction since it seems to cause many companies problems.

Looking at the main components of User Interaction, we have:


UX, UI and Usability. The 3 components of good interaction design.

UX (User Experience) – This is the catch all for the user experience with your product that has not been covered by your personal User Interface definition (UI). It is all encompassing. Things like color, texture, speed, efficiency, reliability, words, fonts etc. can fall into this bucket. Depending on what your product does, the list could be vast.

UI (User Interface) – This is interface between the user of your product (may not always be human – think dog door) and the product itself. Depending on how well you understand the users, the interface may be great or a complete miss. UI can be built without any consideration for UX since at the end of the day by definition, UI enables a user to interact with a product. To explain the previous sentence, think of a Light Switch. Your office may have light switches that are all the color red. If I give you a white light switch to replace a red one, it is still a valid UI solution since it can be used to turn lights on and off but from an overall UX perspective I have just changed the color to not match any of the other light switches.

Usability – Different users will have different usability needs. A cat door will not work with a large dog but may work with a small dog. Understanding the needs of your users will influence the User Interface. A misunderstanding here could lead to a UI that is only partly successful. In the perfect world, the UI should be a perfect match for the needs of the users.



Good Interaction Design means that the UI (User Interface) and the users that will use it are a great match and overall the interface creates a great UX (User Experience).

When we look at a well designed product be it software, web site or a physical product like a Dog Door certain things are evident:

  1. The User Interface ties in perfectly with the User of the product requirements.
  2. The Product looks and feels great to the user and the UI dovetails nicely into the UX.



Bad UX means that the User Interface does not match the requirements of the Users and the overall UX is not great.

If we look at bad interface design it has missed the needs of the users and the overall user experience beyond the user interface is not great.

Why do we end up with bad interface design?

  1. Expectation that the person designing the User Interface (UI) understands the current needs of the users that will be using the product. Just because someone is able to build a UI that does not mean they understand the users that will be using the end product. Think of the light switch example given previously.
  2. Not building a new UI when it is not working or significantly changing the UI to meet the needs of the current users or new users without research.
  3. Usability requirements incomplete or the users of the product not understood. You could come up with a great touch screen application for use in food factories only to find out that they cannot have the glass of the touch screen on the factory floor because of contamination risks to the food product if the glass was to break in an accident!
  4. No research done with users to get their feedback on UI / UX / Usability before or after the product is created.
  5. Cost cutting done at the expense of Usability / UX i.e. the focus being on getting the UI released at all costs.

How to create good interfaces?

  1. Understand your users in detail.
  2. Work with experts that know how to establish the important interface requirements to meet the user needs.
  3. Track the user experience before and after the product is released to pinpoint problems.
  4. Don’t rely on the UI person to do the UX and Usability or to even have the skills to do this analysis.
  5. Leverage interfaces that have already established good Usability / UX and modify them to meet your product’s needs – Don’t reinvent the wheel unless your product further enhances Usability / UX and you have proven that with research.