Don’t make the next step difficult

June 30, 2009

I got a replacement wireless access point a few weeks back. And like a good citizen, I tried to register my purchase on the Netgear website.

The screen shot below is part of their product registration page (there’s another section to the right that I didn’t capture, which is for Returning users with existing login details):

Netgear's product registration page

Netgear's product registration page

So, what’s wrong with this, you might ask? In summary, neither the process nor the ‘call to action’ are clear. Specifically:

  • The Registration button in the navigation bar returns you to this page.
  • The Activate your support contract(s) link returns you to this page. Huh?
  • The Continue button. What Continue button? Yep, it’s hard to see but it’s below the text in the same font size and color as the body text. The background color is so faint that on certain monitors in certain light conditions this button is almost impossible to see. In fact, I refreshed this page, clicked all the other options (some even twice) before I even saw it! When I clicked on it I was taken to page 1 of 4 for registering my product (more on that in a moment…).

A new user to this site is likely to give up because just starting the registration process is difficult to do. By the way, why does it takes FOUR pages plus this front page to register a Netgear product? It’s not a bank loan! No wonder people don’t register — they’d get turned off even if they found and clicked the Continue button.

So how can this process be improved? Luke Wroblewski, in his session at the 2009 WritersUA Conference, gave many guidelines, of which two in particular are relevant to this initial page:

  • Show progress towards completion. [Netgear did this on the four registration pages, but there was nothing on the initial page that helped.]
  • Commands: Not all form actions are equal. Reset, Cancel, Go Back rarely need to be used, so can be omitted or relegated to lesser importance using faded color, smaller size, etc. Primary actions directly responsible for form submission include Submit, Continue, Next, Save etc. Make these larger or a brighter color to emphasize their importance, and align such that they are part of the clear path to completion.

Just making the Continue button larger, with a different (brighter) background color, and different font size to the rest of the page would’ve helped — a lot.

To restate my mantra — courtesy of Steve Krug: “Don’t make me think!”

[Links last checked June 2009]

One comment

  1. Ha ha, what a nightmare. I don’t think I would have bothered to go much beyond the first page! And to top it all, they managed to get the subject-verb correlation wrong:
    “There are several benefits to registering your NETGEAR products which includes:”

    And the last bullet point “Activate your support contract(s)” does not match its siblings in intention or grammatical form.

    Pah! :)

    Cheers, Sarah

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