I don't complain about much when it comes to user experience (oh wait, that's not true), but I couldn't pass this
up. This is the registration form for CBS 2, a local TV station here in Southern California.
I had originally wanted to post a comment on the news story
of a high speed chase about how terrible the television coverage was (they cut to commercials every minute at times, no joke). As it turns out, they require registration to comment. No biggie, I thought. What's one more registration? That's until I got a look at the form...
(scroll down for my analysis below the image)
I can't tell you how many things are wrong with this form. This registration form - to interact with a news website - REQUIRES a security question, a birthday, and...MY HOUSEHOLD INCOME?!?! Not optional; no, they are REQUIRED for registration. Oh, and it also lets me opt in for spam too. I won't even talk about the very large ad bordering the registration form, nor the myriad of font usage.
Now, I understand the need for an ad-based media company to want to be familiar with their demographics, but there needs to be somebody within the organization that stands up to this sort of idiocracy. Just because the ad guys tell you they want all this information doesn't mean you should bow to their every request. Garry Tan pegged it
when he said that when "*anyone* makes a product lousier, [designers] should get up and shout, and raise hell."
It's a well-understood principle that the shorter and simpler your registration form is, the more chance the user has of actually filing it out. Even Facebook experimented
with an extremely simple signup process. Simplicity is key, and when you make something too complex, people will just leave.
When I was greeted by this registration form tonight, I was initially overwhelmed at the amount of information this site wanted, just for me to leave a comment on a news story. As it turns out, I never got around to filling it out. I'm not concerned about my privacy; heck, there is enough information about me out there already. In this case, the amount of effort outweighed the benefit for me.
CBS is not a financial institution, my bank, or my social network. They don't need to be asking my household income or to fill out a security question. Heck, I'm surprised there isn't a field for my social security number.
Moral of the story: If you make a task on a website too difficult to complete, it's going to decrease the number of people who actually do. And in my case, that's what happened.