How not to design a monthly statement email

By | January 7, 2019

I have a Massachusetts EZPass transponder. Every month I get an email “EZDriveMA” (a.k.a., the Massachusetts Department of Transportation) notifying me that my monthly EZPass statement is available. Here’s what should happen:

  1. A readable, aesthetically pleasing email arrives notifying me that I have a monthly statement.
  2. There is an obvious button or link in that email that I can click on to access the statement.
  3. I click, and the site prompts me for my username and password.
  4. After submitting my username and password, I am brought directly to a web page which displays my statement for the previous month.
  5. That web page has “Print” and “Download” buttons I can click on to print and/or download my statement.

Here’s what happens instead:

I get an email that looks like this:

The email is plain-text. The text in it has two spaces after every period (ugh!).

I click on a link. The page it takes me to is not a login page.

I scroll down to find the login link, which is at the bottom of the page, with the text “My E-ZPass MA Account” (not “Login”), and click on it.

I change the “Type of Login” drop-down on that page from “Username” to “Account Number”, since I’ve had this account since before they even supported usernames and I have no idea what my username is. (Incidentally, my username isn’t displayed anywhere on the site. There’s a “Change username” option on the site, but when I go there it requires me to enter my current username in order to change it, and I can’t do that because I don’t know what it is. Also, when your session times out and a login page pops up demanding that you log in again, it’s a different login page which only accepts a username, not an account number, so you can’t log in there if you don’t know your username Brilliant!)

I enter my account number and password (well, technically, I tell Bitwarden to enter them) and click the Login button.

I am brought to an account overview page, not to a page with my statement on it. The left side of the page looks like this:

See how when I hover over each line in this sidebar it changes color, as if it’s a link I can click on? Well, guess what? I can’t click on “Statements/Invoices”. Instead, I have to click on the little “+” next to it. Doing that causes a sub-menu to expand, of which the first item is “View Statements”.

Now you see something that looks like this:

Finally, here, they’ve done something right: the “Report Period” drop-down you see defaults to the most recent available statement.

So, I click “View Statement”. And guess what? It doesn’t actually “view” my statement. Instead, it saves a PDF to my computer, which I can then open to view my statement.

In summary, while the right user interface would take exactly four user actions to view my monthly statement — read email, click link, auto-fill login information, click login button — it instead takes 13: read email, click link, scroll down, click login link, change login type, auto-fill login information click login, attempt and fail to click “Statements/Invoices”, click “+” sign, click “View Statements”, click “View Statement”, choose save location, open saved PDF.

This web site was no doubt designed and built by the lowest bidder.

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