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Stupid Usability #125

Big Bust on Big Bus

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 11/23/2015

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

#125!!!  We made it…haha yeah I realize it’s an awkward number to stop at but we were having so much fun we forgot to stop at number 100!  So for the past 125 weeks our team here at High Monkey has put out Stupid Usability posts on every subject from technology to toilets and menus to cars…you name it, if it was stupid, we probably wrote about it.  BUT it was time for us to say goodbye and start moving on to other things.  We hope you enjoyed reading them as much as we enjoyed creating them.  So what is next for us?  Well read through my post and I will share a little more at the bottom…so here we go with the last Stupid Usability post #125!

So I am currently in Vienna, visiting right before I am on at a conference in the Czech Republic…I know rough life.  Anyway I got myself an advance reservation with the Big Bus Company to use to get a general tour around the city (I like to do it most places) and then I choose the places I want to visit more in-depth after.  So last night I decided to get on the bus and ride until I was near some of the great Vienna Christmas markets (side note – well worth the trip).  To get started I needed to walk to the nearest Hop on Hop off pick up spot.  Since the one closest to me is closed for the winter, I decided I would walk to stop #8, which was about a mile and a half away.  So to get there I decided to use my Big Bus Tours app, which provides you details about each stop and how to get there…at least so I thought.

When opening up the app, I was a bit perplexed (this was the first time I’ve used it) when viewing the details about this stop

As you can see above, the details are actually not there…except when buses start and stop, which at this point was not that useful.  Seems to me if you are going to have a screen called ‘Stop Info’, you might actually get a little bit of info about the stop…guess not.  So at this point, already questioning the quality of the app, I should have just asked someone correct?  WRONG…of course I’m not going to do this (so maybe I am part of the stupid usability myself) and instead decided to check out the location provided:

Where the location was not very descriptive, I could get a general sense of where the stop was at…but then what did my eyes reveal?  But an Apple map icon in the upper left corner (didn’t see it at first)…so I clicked that knowing it would show me the exact location:

Well the good news was it gave me the exact location, but I could not access any additional features such as directions.  So figuring I at least knew the right location now, I pulled out my Google maps found the general area and followed those directions…from there, though a big pain in the back side, I used both my Google maps and the Big Bus Apple location to find the exact location to wait for the bus to arrive.  After a bit of going back n forth I was able to find the exact spot where the Apple map showed.

What are those red and green arrows you ask?  Hold on and I will get back to those.  So even though there was no bus sign to speak of, the Apple Maps had spoken so I felt I should listen…as I don’t run the Big Bus Company and figured they knew what they were doing.  So I waited for about 10 minutes for the first bus (they come every 20 minutes) and saw it arrive and pass right by.  Frustrated that I obviously was not standing in the right location and that the Apple map was definitely wrong, I decided to take another look at the regular route map location.  What did I find?  Well it appeared that the regular map location was down the road about another 1/8 of a mile and across the street.

So I proceeded to walk down the street until I figured I was approximately at the right location.  Again I was disappointed that there was not a specific sign for the Hop On Hop Off but at least this time there were other buses down the street and I was standing by a sign :)

Well this time the bus actually pulled up into my area…but again it passed right by.  So I chased after the bus until he got to the stop light (which was really close) and tried to get him to open the door.  Instead of help, I got one finger pointed backwards indicating the stop was behind him, when I protested it wasn’t there, I got a 2nd finger stuck up in the air at me (it’s called the middle finger – that’s what I call customer service).

So frustrated at missing two buses and waiting almost 40 minutes to get somewhere, I proceeded to walk down to try and find the actual stop.  About another 1/8 mile down the road, well low and behold there is was.  

Now the actual correct location (the RED arrows above) was not anywhere close to the location in the Big Bus app (the GREEN arrow in the first pic) and almost a 1/4 mile away from the Apple maps location.  SO FRUSTRATING.  And on top of that, the bus location sign was super tiny and hard to even see.  So what did I end up doing?  Well I finally gave up and decided I wasn’t going to wait for another bus, but instead walked the additional 2 miles to my first Christmas market.

So what was so frustrating was this was really human error and not an error in the app…see people make apps, apps don’t make themselves.  Considering the technology we have today, how can a company as big as Big Bus Company (yes I understand the irony), that does as much tourism business as they do, not even check to make sure that their app gets the location right.

So this is the final stupid usability and it’s a good one, because basically the Big Bus Company failed from start to finish

  • They had a details screen for every stop with no details about it at all…an address would have been so helpful
  • They got not 1 but both map locations wrong.  Where I understand Apple maps still has a lot of location issues in it, how hard would it be for someone from the company to actually click on the app and verify either location is correct
  • At least adding the ability to be able to get directions from the Apple map on the app would of helped ... and would of meant there would have been an address
  • Their signs are small and hard to find, where this is not an issue with the app, overall this is one frustration I have a lot with tour companies … after all we are all just a bunch of stupid tourists, so you would think they would want to make it easier for us

So that is it, this is the last one.  I hope you enjoyed our series.  Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we reveal our next series…probably starting after the first of the year.  Now that we have shared 125 stupid usability instances we thought we would switch gears and share some usability solutions.  Until then, thanks for following along this series with all of us!


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: 11/23/2015 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments