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Stupid Usability #39

Can you please confirm the confirmation?

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 3/31/2014

From the mind of Virgil Carroll, Principal Human Solutions Architect at High Monkey:

One of the least fun activities any person has (I should think) is the time honored tradition of paying your bills. Where this is an necessary evil there are some businesses that can make this process downright painful. Where many people probably still pay most bills by writing checks and mailing them, I have switched. Over the last many years I have been paying most of my bills online … and this is where my pain gets extreme. Where there are some vendors that have given ‘some’ thought to the online bill paying process, many have created complex processes with unnecessary steps and headache. In my mind there is not a better example of this then my gas service provider, CenterPoint Energy. Now in all fairness I need to note that CenterPoint is not a gigantic conglomerate like many of the vendors I pay online with (and more of a regional player) they do provide a majority of the gas service for the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis / St. Paul, which encompasses potentially a few hundred thousand potential users. Like many other organizations, CenterPoint probably does pay a lot of attention to the end user experience and built a system that has too many steps for not enough pay off (the irony being this system is for them to get their money, so you would think they would care that was easy).

To start off the payment process, I login to my CenterPoint Energy account and check out what I currently owe. As you can see from the screenshot, this is a nice clean interface which provides me the amount owed, payment due date and gives me an easy button to start the payment process.

Where this all seems good and easy to use, its once you get past this screen that things start to get frustrating.  So after clicking the button, I am presented with a screen where I can select my payment method (it saves previous payment methods) and select PAY. Again this seems like an easy and straightforward process.

On the third screen, I am perplexed because I am now asked to select my payment method (which I did on the screen before already) and select continue. The one difference from this screen and the last is on this one you select the type of payment method (such as credit card, checking account or debit card) and then select CONTINUE. Unlike the other screen where you selected a previous payment type of clicked the ‘Add New Bank Account.' This makes sense, right? Wrong. Why do I select a bank account and then get asked if I want to use a bank account or credit card after? But wait…there’s more!

This takes me to the fourth screen, where I am basically asked to select the some of the same stuff, such as my payment method (yet again), but in additional I can select a payment amount, date and also accept the terms and conditions. After completing that, I now need to select the MAKE PAYMENT button to continue to the next screen. Now this makes sense? What…wait, why did I have to do that all over again? But wait…there is more!

Finally, on the last screen of the process, I am presented with a confirmation screen where I can conveniently confirm everything I have confirmed three times before to FINALLY complete the process.

So if I really need to explain to you the stupid usability here, then you should probably be their test subject in the future. What could have been a quick select payment method and then confirm has been turned into a 5 step process where I basically re-confirm the previous steps over and over and over. Simple solution: hire someone like us to set you straight.

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 3/31/2014 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments