Inexplicable usability choices: emusic

You can come to emusic in two states:
– logged in
– not logged in

If you’re not logged in, it could be because you’re a member or not.

So let’s say you’re not a member. You’ll look around as much as possible (emusic hasn’t historically made it easy to browse their selection, which I don’t understand) and either decide to sign up or leave.

If you’re a member and you’re not logged in, you may well hit the “login” button.

No one who is not a member, logically, would hit that button. If you were designing the next step, you should assume that your audience is members who are not currently logged in.

Right? So here’s their page.

I don’t mind so much that I’m taken to a login page. But it’s one of the worst examples of poor design I’ve ever seen on something this simple. A login screen should ask for
1. Username/email/whatever the ID is
2. Password

That’s it. Here, you’ve expressed an intention to login, and you get a radio button defaulted to “I am not a member”. Why would you be there if you weren’t a member?

Every time an emusic customer – someone who is subscribing to their service, handing over money every month – goes to login, that button is defaulted to no, and they have to click it to “Yes I have a password”. Every one of them.

Why would anyone who is not a member fill in their email and then hit “submit” on a login page? There’s no indication at all of what could happen next. If they do, by some miracle, they’re taken to the registration process.

Why? Why would a new customer go to “login” then fill in their email address as if they had an account, then hit submit?

Clearly, this page serves two masters: they want to let people log in, and then someone decided that they needed to let people register there as well. But if people wanted to subscribe, there’s a “sign up” button on the front page (!!!). If you were going to subscribe, that’s where you’d go.

It takes you to the registration page, the same as if you’d gone into the login page and blundered past the registration. That makes sense.

I don’t understand why they deliberately designed a page that annoys its intended audience every time it’s used. “I enjoy giving you money each month.” “Hang on, let me poke you in the eye real quick.”

I sent emusic a note about this as a user, where I said “please, if you’re not going to fix the page, could you at least default the button to ‘yes’?” and they said they’d pass the comment along.

It’s a line of HTML. It would take someone five, ten seconds to fix that default and then I don’t know how long to propagate it out. They haven’t done it.

When I work on user interface stuff, I always try and remember examples like this. What’s the user thinking when they come to the page? Are there rough edges we can smooth? If this page can’t easily serve two purposes, can we break it out?

3 thoughts on “Inexplicable usability choices: emusic

  1. dct

    It looks like they stole most of their logon page design from Amazon, but forgot to steal the wording on the various links that Amazon uses to lead people to that page.

    Amazon had the sense to default to “Yes, I have a password.” (They also had the sense to put a comma after the word “Yes.”)

  2. Faradan

    FWIW, if you start typing your password, the radio button switches itself to Yes.

  3. Matt

    I’ve noticed that too, but if your browser is set to auto-fill the password, you can just hit submit with the password auto-filled and the button still selected to non-member. It’ll log you in just like normal anyway.
    Still, I agree completely. One of the many awful design obstacles that make eMusic a chore to use.

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