When Web UIs go bad

One of my clients has started using the Eloqua marketing platform and asked me to get involved to build some process around it. I’ve spent a few hours with it now and I have to say that the User Interface is one of the worst I have ever used. A good example is below, in this case I want to import some contacts, so I must first get in to “Database Management”, which if you can’t guess is under the “Evaluate” (wtf!?) menu at the top.

Just look at the number of tabs on that screen, did someone seriously design this? So now where do I find upload? It’s not in that big area in the middle…

No it’s under the contacts ‘menu’ bar. Each menu/drop-down doesn’t have many options under it, many in fact only have one so why aren’t they just visible?

Two of us spent nearly three hours yesterday trying to decipher this along with the program builder. The program builder would be 5 posts on its own! I think one of the issues with this Eloqua system is that on the surface it looks good, and this is bought by marketing people who, let’s be fair like ‘bling’. Unfortunately the system hasn’t been designed for usability and I think it really suffers for it. From what I have seen it is a very powerful system just not an accessible one.

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11 responses to “When Web UIs go bad

  1. Eloqua has a great training portal and offers a number of ways to get to the contact upload. To save three hours and as a sys admin I’d expect you to click training and read the manual. There are videos that take 2 minutes that show you how to do so. As with any application it takes training.

  2. Ah…RTFM!

    You make valid points, I did eventually sample the help system which is well populated. The individual pages are somewhat annoying as they all start with “Access the _Contact View_ page”, which you then have to click the link to go to another page to another page in order to work out the navigation from where you actually are!

    I digressed a bit too much on the article, my intention was to criticise the design. To that end training should not be a substitute for a bad design, credit to Eloqua for having that training though.

  3. Wow! Interesting comment from the first person to respond – an Eloqua employee who assumes that people haven’t tried their training and support… A bit too defensive perhaps??? Very telling… If your training and UI are so great, then why do you have so many clients fleeing for other solutions (Vtrenz, Manticore, Marketo, etc…)? And why did you just lay off 20% of your staff – including the deployment team? As a software developer, you should know better than to blame the User if your solution is too complex (and too expensive) to be considered usable.

  4. “Credit Eloqua for having training..”? Shouldn’t that be standard? This is clearly an issue with Eloqua customers that I talk to. Their ability to execute efficiently is becoming more and more prevalent – Marketers don’t have time to search and learn, they want an app that is laid out as a Marketer thinks. This poor guy is only trying to upload contacts, what happens when he tries to associate a template with an email campaign? <>

  5. Note to my eloqua rep…please stalk stalking me!

  6. Web interfaces are not as easy to design and implement as they seem. Marketo describes their’s as ‘insanely easy to use” http://tinyurl.com/692fug . Maybe that’s a bigger selling point than I thought.

  7. Ray, I agree web interfaces aren’t easy – but they’re not insanely difficult either.

    We have a web app which is now on its sixth iteration and has been in use for some four years. It’s a tool for sales staff and although there is limited help and the offer of training no one ever takes us up on it.

    In the case of Eloqua I think they’ve made a couple of fatal flaws the mainl being that they’ve tried to make it look/behave like a [bad] Windows app.

    I think it takes more effort to get it as wrong as they have. If they had just left a bunch of hyperlinks on the screen to represent ever action possible with a simple two-level navigation structure then it would be better than it currently is.

    Probably it’s just been ‘over-designed’

  8. Classic case of engineering running Product Management

  9. Eloqua isn’t perfect, but they also offer training seminars/partners with guidance expertise regardless of what level of account you are using. If you’re trying to eat soup, and you refuse a spoon that has been offered… Well you can’t blame the waiter when you get yourself covered in hot mess.

    That being said, Joel, get yourself educated, because if you’re going to complain, you’d better have the cred to back it up. Be constructive and voice your complaints to the company in question instead of jerking each other off for web points.

  10. @J
    I assume you’re referring to the training that you have to pay for? Unfortunately as an external consultant either I have to pay for this training myself or my client pays for it for me (unlikely). My colleague had been on the 2day training course, albeit several months ago.

    Thanks for the tip about getting educated, but I think I’m fine right now – I’m finding Sharepoint a lot more rewarding.

    Joel Mansford BSc (Hons) MBCS MCSE MCSA:M MCITP

  11. Hey J, Eloqua gives you soup, but with a fork! Having laid off 20% of their staff last month, including their “waiters” (deployment and integration staff) they now outsource client success. Is that what you were referring to. …nice language by the way potty-mouth.

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