Neil's News

Watching the Users

14 January 2004

Getting a new character on Moo Canada is easy, right? All you do is enter your username and email address, then pick up the email with your password.

Wrong. For the past two months I've been quietly observing and logging new users who are attempting to join us. Here is a more realistic task list:

  1. From the front page, click the "Create your own character instantly" link.
  2. Type "Boiling Oil" as your username and "" as your email address.  Press submit.
  3. Instead of confirming your details, the following page complains that usernames with spaces are not allowed.
  4. You change the username to "BoilingOil" and press submit again.
  5. The confirmation page appears and tells you to check your email.
  6. No email arrives. After an hour or two you return and try to reregister.
  7. The system tells you that the name "BoilingOil" is not available.
  8. You contact the Wizzen using the website's feedback form and explain the problem.
  9. A couple of hours later they reply and point out that your original email was missent to "". They correct the address, resend the password.
  10. A couple of hours later you collect their response and the new password.
  11. You go to the front page, click the telnet link, and Microsoft Telnet opens (the default on Windows computers).
  12. Microsoft Telnet doesn't echo what you type, which makes it nearly impossible to login properly.
  13. You go back to the front page, click on the link to download "a better client".
  14. Select, download and install new Telnet software.
  15. Return to the Moo and login successfully.

Most new users are just seeking a bit of light entertainment. Most people wouldn't consider the above to be light entertainment. Most people who start to request a character never make it onto the Moo.

Watching real people work their way through the system was very interesting. They made errors which I would never dream of. Moo Canada has not kept up to date with the decreasing technical abilities of the Internet's population. I've installed a series of upgrades based on what I've learned. These will certainly help, but much more user observation is required by the Wizzen if we are going to be usable by 'generation Microsoft'.

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