Thursday, April 10, 2008

JetBlue's Web Usability Mistake

Will you join me in a little experiment today?

When first planning a trip and searching for airline flights, how many passengers do you indicate in your initial search?

One? Two?

Maybe the whole family - 3 or more?

Or how about zero?

Personally, I always start out looking for 1, because at first I'm really just price and schedule shopping.

I can fine tune later.

But one number of passengers I'd NEVER book for? Zero.

So why is that the default on JetBlue's main booking page?

I'm guessing here that many folks - maybe 50% or more - are like me and start out looking for a flight using just 1 person... then change it later once they've found a good deal, right date and time, etc. But ZERO?

Hey, I like Blue a lot. Fly them all the time.

So after I enter my From:, my To:, and the out and back dates, I'm ready to see what they've got to offer:

BUT... Click Search at that point and here's what you get:

That's not very friendly!

Web usability icon Jacob Nielson says "In forms and applications, pre-populate fields with the most common value if you can determine it in advance."

I say, "Here here!"

Isn't it preferable, if you MUST "inconvenience your customers" (by forcing them to fill out a form), that you irritate say 50% rather than 100%?

If you've seen other goofy form defaults, let us know about them in the comments below.


gene said...

Trying to mind read (and giving them the benefit of the doubt). Maybe they are worried users don't read the form closely. That users only enter in time and location and miss the passenger number, book a flight and then are frustrated because they have the wrong numbers of passengers. This forces the user to take a moment to ensure the form is fully filled out. From a design point of view they are using a list to limit the possible answers (instead of a text field).

Gravyboy said...

Thanks for this post. The other day I got a credit card offer from Bank of America/Amex. I have a card from them already, but this one was for The Motley Fools, whom I follow. Plus there was a reasonably good deal for balance transfers, which is the only reason I would apply for another CC. So I go online to fill out the credit app and at the very end there is a pull-down menu from which you can pick which bank, CC, etc. you want to do a balance transfer from. So I pick Bank of America/AMEX from the list, which is correct. The result? "You cannot transfer balances from another Bank of America/AMEX card!" OK, so why is it on the pull-down list? I ASK you!!