A lesson in usability: sometimes less is more

I was talking to someone the other day who isn't particularly Internet savvy and was trying to set up a Skype account.

This person doesn't use the Internet or email too often, but when they do they generally get on OK because they read things carefully, apply common sense and aren't too afraid to stray from the beaten path / have a click around.

However, she was stumped at the first hurdle when setting up a Skype account as it involved creating a Microsoft account which needed verifying.

Below is a screenshot of the email she received:

When she spoke to me about this email, she said that they needed to make sure this email address was hers, and there was a link to click if she hadn't made the request... the big blue button in the middle of the page completely got overlooked! I assume due to the modern, simplistic styling of it - straight edges, block colour - it just didn't look like a button to her. Meanwhile, the text that was a different colour and said "click here" absolutely stood out as something which could be clicked.

Had the message above the button said "...so please click the blue button below to confirm" or had the button itself said "click here to verify..." she would have been up and running a day sooner.

The designers of the email had obviously intended the blue button to be the most prominent thing in the email, with the "click here to cancel" link a subtle follow up, but for a novice web user it actually had the opposite effect!

Therefore, it's important to remember that sometimes you can try too hard with usability UX design and just a couple more words can be a lot more beneficial!

Once she was in Skype (on Windows 8), a whole new world of pain was unleased as she found her recent call logs and favourites but struggled to add a new contact. I can't go into this as I don't have screenshots but it did sound like little messages such as "you don't currently have any contacts so you can't use the favourites feature just yet" would have helped.

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