Thanks to PayPal, if you want to buy something online whilst relaxing in front of the TV, you no longer have to remove your Snuggie, crawl over to your wallet, type in SIXTEEN DIGITS, plus an expiration code, plus that other code thing in order to do it. You can simply select PayPal as the check-out option without the worry of remembering to put your credit card back into that wallet, which is now 20 feet from your purse. Awesome.
This may sound like overkill, but when it comes to creating the easiest and simplest user experience, every single drain of user attention and effort has importance. So in short, THANK YOU PayPal for such amazing UX!
Many businesses that benefit from great UX also use it as a weapon, known as dark patterns. (And I’m not talking about damask, my fav black and grey fabric pattern ❤️). A dark pattern is a system designed to manipulate users into something that benefits the company, and not the user. While many of these patterns are, at minimum, hugely annoying, some border on the unethical, like how GoDaddy tries to trick users into buying something that was secretly inserted into their carts.
PayPal isn't quite in that arena, but things don't look good.
I logged into PayPal the other day and realized that the money people had paid me over the last few months was just sitting with PayPal. Not in my checking account. 😲
PayPal took advantage of a user assumption on my part, which was, “The money my friends send me goes straight into my checking account?” I had no idea it could stay on the website. By not letting me know I have money stuck on the site in need of transfer, I’m sure they’re raking in lots of cash by holding onto it and doing whatever banks do to make money in their secret bank ways.
Once I let out the requisite UGGGHHH to my cat, I went to transfer my money and came across this screen.
After all this, I searched the site, and there isn't actually a way have money from friends go immediately into your own checking account automatically. Super inconvenient for me, super nice for PayPal.
The next time I paid for something with PayPal, I saw this screen.
I happened to know I had 30 bucks available on PayPal, but it wasn’t showing up as a resource to use as a payment method. Do I not get to use that money for this purchase at all?? At this point, I began some deep breathing exercises and made a cup of tea.
What I didn't know then is that when making an ‘in-store’ purchase, the balance is automatically used before whatever payment you select—BUT—the user isn’t alerted to this fact. In fact, I only found out that bit of info while researching for this post.
So, the good news is that PayPal isn’t forcibly keeping me from paying with my balance. The bad news is, how was I supposed to know that?! If I had never looked this up on my own, I would still be griping about how PayPal desperately wants to hoard my money, just like my grandpa complains about squirrels on the birdfeeder. #BadUX
Problem 1: I didn’t know money I receive from friends didn’t go straight into my checking account
Solution: Create an automatic transfer feature so it isn’t stuck on the site in the first place. If PayPal needs it to be on the site to make money, they need to allow people to opt out. The most important thing to a banking user is trust of the company and feeling in control of their money. Without these, they will start looking elsewhere. Venmo anyone?
Problem 2: I can’t click on my balance to auto populate the transfer money field.
Solution: Let me do that. Please. Please, let me do that.
Problem 3: I want to use my balance in PayPal payments. Sorry, I want to know my balance is being used in my PayPal payments.
Solution: When selecting a payment, display the current balance that will go towards the PayPal purchase. Not only do I now know what’s happening with my money, but I feel good that I’m sort of getting a discount on the new Snuggie I’m buying.
The conclusion? The shadow of a dark pattern (keeping money on the site and not putting it in my account) and some confusing content strategy (not letting me know my balance will be used for a payment) leads to over all distrust, confusion, and, that’s right, #BADux.
Have you experienced any of this with PayPal? Did you feel the same way or differently? Let me know in the comments below!
Welcome to BadUX! I'm Gabrielle Moskey, a UX Designer, and when I see bad UX, I have to vent about it and discover exactly why it was bad in the first place.