I just receive my most recent American Express bill. Anytime I receive a credit card bill I go over every line and make sure that I can account for every charge. I found two unexpected items: a late fee and an interest charge. This was really odd because I make it a policy to never carry over a balance on a credit card and I schedule all of my payments electronically via Bank of America and they are extremely reliable.
I did some further investigation and found that the problem was that I had never received last months bill (and so didn’t send them a payment for it).
They probably did issue the statement. I’m sure AMEX is very good about that. And the likely scenario is that the post office just failed to deliver it. No big surprise there (although our local postman is pretty good normally). What bothers me is that AMEX never bothered to let me know that they were expecting money from me. They have my email address. They have my phone number. Instead they just start slapping on charges. And this is to a customer who has never made a late payment, ever!
So I sent in a lengthy complaint via the AMEX web site. And then I went over the last several statements and found every company that billed services to me via American Express. I logged into my account for every one of those companies and changed the billing method to my Amazon Visa card. And after next month’s AMEX bill clears and I pay it, I shall cancel my American Express card and never do business with this company again.
Here are some titles on my recommended reading list for good web applications user interface design:
- Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design, by Jennifer Tidwell
- Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design, by Robert Hoekman Jr.
- Designing Web Interfaces: Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions, by Bill Scott and Theresa Neil
- Universal Design for Web Applications: Web Applications That Reach Everyone, by Wendy Chisholm
- Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition, by Steve Krug
- Web Application Architecture: Principles, Protocols and Practices, by Leon Shklar
And if you find any treasures, please consider adding updates to this post with your recommendations.
I love this quote from Robert Hoekman:
Great Web-based software…has some or all of the following qualities:
- It conforms to the way users interact with the Web, but focuses on the activity instead of a specific audience.
- It has only those features that are absolutely necessary for users to complete the activity the application is meant to support.
- It supports the user’s mental model of what it does.
- It helps users get started quickly so they can become intermediate users as soon as possible.
- It makes it easy to recover from mistakes and difficult to make them in the first place.
- It has uniformly designed interface elements, but leverages irregularity to create meaning and importance.
- It reduces clutter to a minimum.
Each of these qualities has been documented as the result of studies in human-computer interaction, usability testing, and user-satisfaction surveys. The interesting part is that these qualities usually go unnoticed. Why? Because good software makes itself invisible. It enables the users to do what they need to do and gets its behind-the-scenes operations out of the way so they can do it well.
Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design, by Robert Hoekman Jr.