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Jonas Voss

Flawed American Express card registration process

2 min read

Tried to activate an American Express credit card, via the American Express Android app today. Turned into a field study of assholedesign. I wonder if anyone from their customer service team, or their developers ever tried to follow the sign-up flow themselves.

Issue #1 - Secret rules

The fields the user needs to fill out, has no guidance on what qualifies as a valid input. I put in a username, and a password I deemed safe to use.

The app told me the following:

Error message from AMEX signup on Android App

"User ID must contain at least one number."

Ok. I add a number to my login and that worked. It wasn't clear I had to from the beginning.

Issue #2 - More secret rules

I then type in a password. It's 11 characters long, and includes one number, and one special character. That mix usually works.

The app tells me:

Password not valid, refer to Terms for details

"Password not valid, please refer to Terms for details."

What's wrong with writing the requirements in the error message or, and I know or it sounds a bit crazy, right next to the field you need to fill it into (like the Norman Nielsen Group has told us since 2015). At least they could have included a link to the "Terms" where these sacred details can be found. Anyway, I ended up getting a generated one from KeePass, but I still don't know what they rules are for their password.

Issue #3 - Dark design pattern

For the final example, this is how their marketing box looks like:

Image showing checkbox next to text which is counter to user understanding.

Notice how the promotions opt-in checkbox is next to the text saying:

"Your email address will not be shared with other companies to market their own products and services. You can update your preferences later if you wish."

This gives the impression that by checking the box, you agree to them not giving out your email address to other companies, while checking it opts you in, to receiving email promotions from American Express.

If you are designing a sign-up form for anything, please don't make me guess what I can put into the fields. It's a bad user experience that, with just a modicum of thought and testing, could be turned into a great experience. 


Jonas Voss

Netflix "My List" woes

2 min read

Here's a 1st world problem of mine.

The maximum number of items you can have on My List on Netflix is 500. This seems to be a legacy policy from when Netflix was DVD based, and was shipping items to people.

When you hit this limit, you have to remove titles from your list to be able to add new ones. This was not something Netflix told me, I had to figure it out when app/website wouldn't allow me to add new titles to my list. It didn't say what the issue was, it would just say it couldn't be added. I've later had confirmation from Netflix, that this was the case.

I didn't know about this limit until I hit it, and it's not something the UI makes you aware of in any way. There's no counter of how many titles you have on your My List. There's no indication when adding a title to My List how many are in there now. There are zero clues about this.

After reading online about this legacy policy about 500 items being the limit, I contacted Netflix support to ask if I could have the 500 items limit lifted. I was told that was not possible, and I would have to manually remove items from My List one by one.

If only My List had some kind of functionality to order the data on that list. Say, sorting by date added, watch length, whether you watched it or not. Over time I've not been the only person frustrated by this, judging from the results of searching online, and a number of people have written Greasemonkey scripts, user scripts, etc, to address this shortcoming. Unfortunately, none of the scripts I've tried are working anymore, because Netflix keeps changing their API making it impossible to get the data from them in an effective way.

I just have a single feature request for Netflix. They don't have to build any sort of functionality into My List itself, but if they could create a button for your account, which with a single press removed all watched titles from My List, that would really make my day. It would also not waste my time removing them one by one from their web interface which, at best, is as enjoyable and rewarding as watching paint dry.

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Jonas Voss