Starbucks and AT&T need to examine the user experience for their wifi signup process

I've seen it happen too many times and it's starting to get annoying. Time after time, a normal internet user will enter Starbucks with their laptop with the presumption that they can get free wifi at the coffee behemoth. Yes, it's true, they can, but AT&T makes you jump through hoops to get it set up. Maybe it's an attempt to get users to fail and end up paying for wifi, but more often than not, they end up getting frustrated with not being able to get online and then they leave. It's bad for Starbucks and it's bad for AT&T. Here's what AT&T and Starbucks needs to fix:
  1. Tell people with print advertising that they can get online via the "attwifi" network. Too many times, I've had to help people find the right network to connect to. They don't associate AT&T with Starbucks, and quite frankly, they shouldn't have to. Customers should see signs or placards posted around the store on how to get online. I think there are pamphlets somewhere about this, but customers don't know where to look to find them.
  2. Better explain the process about needing to register a Starbucks card for $5 or more to be eligible for free wifi. Usually, baristas will know about this and know to explain this to the customer, but sometimes they don't. If the process were streamlined enough, this wouldn't even be an issue.
  3. Make the Sign Up for Free Wifi at Starbucks link more visible. Once a user tries to visit a website and gets redirected to AT&T's login page, they are bombarded with a cluttered webpage, and the link to sign up for the free wifi is nearly invisible. This is probably intentional on AT&T's part to make users pay for wifi, but if a user knows they can get free wifi in Starbucks, they probably aren't going to ever pay for it.
  4. Clean up the signup process. Make the default choice for getting a Starbucks account "Register" rather than "Login with existing account." I continually see users who keep submitting the registration form but never even see the radio buttons to Register instead of Login. Hello, they've never registered for wifi. Chances are, they've never registered for Starbucks acccount.
  5. USER TEST THE PROCESS!! I doubt AT&T ever tried this signup process on real users once they finished building it. The process is even confusing to me, and I have more experience with the internet than the average person. User testing is the most important process to find out how users use your site, because regardless of how easy the designer thinks the process is, you can never know how real people will react until they can try it out.
These are some no-brainers, and it's disappointing that AT&T hasn't touched this process or made any visible changes since they initially got the Starbucks contract a couple years ago. And Starbucks isn't off the hook either. They should be proactive in enhancing this process, because they should care about customer retention in their stores. Ease and simplicity is key to engaging with consumers today, and unfortunately at this point, I see far too many people leaving Starbucks disappointed because the process to get online in Starbucks is just too complicated for the average person.

The problem with MLB Umpires

Less than two weeks ago, I ranted about a blatantly terrible call made by the left field line umpire in the Yankees/Twins Division Series game where a fair ball (that bounced out of play and would have been ruled a ground rule double) was called foul. I ranted, but didn't present a solution.

Last night, Charles Gibson of ABC posted an overview of bad umpiring calls in recent weeks, pointing out three terrible calls during game 4 of the Championship Series between the Angels and Yankees. His solution is to bring instant replays to umpires like in all other major sports.

But I don't think adding instant replays is necessarily the best solution. I think the solution is as simple as hiring younger umpires. If you really think about it, it's rare to see an MLB umpire under the age of 60. It's not that they don't have vast experience calling games - I just don't think their vision and perception is in its best state. The human body is well past its prime for many of these guys.

Let's face it, 90% of these controversial calls happen within 20 feet of these umpires, and the problem really seems to be them not being able to clearly see what is going on directly in front of them. I don't have a problem with older gentlemen calling these games, but there vision and perception has to be top notch. If you were to put my grandpa and me in the same room, I'm going to see a whole lot more than he is - that's just the nature of life. Unfortunately, neither vision nor perception seem to be working too well for the umpires that have been involved in calling these post-season games.

I hope MLB comes up with a solution to prevent these elementarily wrong calls, without resorting to instant replay.

Here's what some of my friends had to say on Facebook, mostly about the most outrageous call where umpire Tim McClelland only called one Yankee out at 3rd base when both were tagged out and neither were touching the bag:

Emily Barrett Fuentes: i think both teams can agree....fire these umps!

Christopher Jae Gaines: Terrible calls. I feel bad for Angel fans.

Sara Hughes: well...apparently you don't have to be on the base to be safe if you are a Yankee...you can just stand there like an idiot a foot off the base with your hands in your pocket and be safe. RIDICULOUS.

Brianna Villines: can i be an ump?

Jill Morrow Capote: Wondering how much the Yankees had to pay the umps to make those ridiculous calls!!! Unbelievable.

Kelsey Weisenberger: Haha I love that I'm not even watching the game and I know that the umps are being jerks hahaha

Heather Dilley: The umps are on the Yankee payroll.

Emily Barrett Fuentes: yeah!!!!!!!!!!!! home run....oh wait the umps will prob disagree

-------: That was bull****!! Bull ****ing ****!!!

I'm sorry, but this precludes me from EVER buying a GM vehicle

GM is touting a new OnStar feature that disables your vehicle if OnStar thinks it is involved in a high speed pursuit.

There are so many things that can go wrong here. It's a good idea in theory, and maybe a good selling point, but when put into practice, these things tend to be a nightmare. There are always bugs and glitches - you'll be driving and for no reason, your car will shut off. Besides that, I don't trust the people in control of these systems, and with the government owning part of GM, the lines between government and personal freedom get crossed way too easily.