Big buttons are great, but they better make sense

Last revisited on 10 Jan 2014, originally published on 21 Sep 2013. UX UI Mailchimp

Mailchimp’s recently updated interface looks fresh and useful, two things that were missing from their old UI. However, there’s one little problem. Here’s what you see when you sign in:

At first glance: two nice actionable buttons right in your face. The moneymaking actions clients would want to use the most, so it makes sense to put them front and center. It guides new users to what they should be doing, get them deeper in the rabbit hole, a very important part of the first few minutes for any SaaS.

A+ for effort, but …

… F for execution. The buttons don’t actually do anything. This is what you see when you press the big yellow button. See the difference?

The new blue arrow on the left next to “Lists” kinda jiggles to get your attention, but overall it’s a pretty bad experience: If I’m pressing a giant button that says “Create a list”, I expect to be taken to the page where I can create a list, not to be shown where I should really press to create a list.

Worse, once you press “Lists”, you’re still not on the “Create a list” page, but you have to press an additional button for that. At this point we’re at 3 clicks - 1 of which made us feel betrayed - to do something that should’ve been only 1 click away.

The same happens with the “Create a campaign” button. These giant buttons that take up 70% of the screen and have an actionable label don’t actually do anything! I don’t have an insight into their A/B or usability tests, but it feels so unfriendly it must be bad for conversion.

This is probably a case of the “blank slate” UI pattern gone too far. When a user first uses an application and there is no data yet (for example, there’s no mailing lists or campaigns yet), it’s a good practice to show the user some introduction. For example “You have no campaigns yet. Go here to create your first campaign!”. Experts agree that it’s better to train the user to click the right buttons from the start, as opposed to show the user a button “Create your first campaign” that will disappear as soon as they’ve done the first action.

This is probably what Mailchimp had in mind here. However, not confuseing the user should have precedence over training him/her to press the wrong buttons. In fact, the user is pressing the wrong buttons, and is being trained to press a button that will disappear after their first real use.

David Verhasselt

I’m a consultant & entrepreneur. I build webapps and optimize Minimal Viable Products for clients all over the world. If you'd like to chat, hit me up on david@crowdway.com.

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Verhasselt