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Stupid Usability 117

Color Confusion

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 9/28/2015

From the mind of Joe Cronin, Project Manager at High Monkey:

This week’s Stupid Usability provides a look into how color impacts our experience on websites.

Last week we received a coupon in the mail for a new restaurant delivery service in our area. The premise of the service is very simple, you create an account on their website and place orders for pickup at local restaurants through their site. They have drivers who will pick up the food from the restaurant and deliver for a small fee. The coupon was for $10 off an order and the site had Brasa (the best BBQ in Minneapolis) on their list of restaurants, so my wife and I decided to give it a shot.

The website has a very clean look and feel, with large bright images of food and the city night life. The logo for the service is red. As a result, red is a prominent color in their branding across the site.

The process of ordering food was very simple. It was easy to find our restaurant and navigate to the takeout menu.
To order food, first you select your plate from the menu:

We decided to go with the Slow Roasted Pork Plate. Selecting that item brings up a modal menu where you select your sides and plate size.


We went with the Rustic Style Grits w/Cheddar (it’s a better version of Mac n’ Cheese, try it, you will never go back!).

This is where the Stupid Usability came in. Perhaps I was distracted by thoughts of delicious slow roasted pork, or by my wife talking to me from the other room, or by my daughter asking for her 8th piggyback ride in the last 15 minutes, but when it came time to order, I saw a BIG RED button and a grey one. Out of instinct, I clicked the grey button, thus cancelling the order that I had spent roughly 30 seconds of my day placing.

It did not take much time to go back and start the order over, but the incident highlights an important aspect in the difference between Great Usability and Stupid Usability. A website that has Great Usability should be intuitive to users in all states, whether they are happy, sad, hungry, or distracted. In the case of this ordering service, the use of a red button to complete an order goes against Great Usability.

Red is the color of avoidance. We are alerted when we enter the wrong information into a field on a contact form by a red highlight around the box. When we drive, the color red tells us to stop, whether at a stop light or a stop sign.

To fix this Stupid Usability, the company should change their order confirmation button from red to green. Green is the color that is embedded in our culture for confirmation and moving forward. For traffic lights, green means Go.

If I were not distracted when ordering, I have no doubt in my mind that I would have selected the correct button. But with some help from the designer of the site, by changing the button from red to green, it would not have mattered whether I was distracted or not.


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: 9/28/2015 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments