Ever get caught in a loop – something so aggravating that you have to stop? Whether a symptom of intentional dark patterns (now banned in California), or unintentional terrible user experience design (UX), these patterns can make the most patient among us want to scream.
These don’t always occur online – one of my first experiences with this was when I was a student at Florida State.
Every semester, without fail, I would have to go in to the Registrar’s office to register in person (taking time off my full-time job to do so). There I was told that I couldn’t register until my financial aid was disbursed. Like I did each semester before, I would have to walk across the campus to the Financial Aid office. There I was told that they couldn’t disburse my financial aid until I had registered for classes. (Go ahead and read those last 4 sentences again. And again.) It would take a few rounds of this before I convinced one office to get the other office on the phone…
Currently, I am caught in a loop with Instagram. One night, I decided to turn my personal account into a business account. This lets you promote posts. I tried to promote a post about Boca Code’s Software Engineering Career Course. Instagram flagged this as being an employment opportunity so didn’t run the promotion. Rather than fight to promote the post, I decided to cancel it and switch my account back to a personal one.
So… I go to Settings > Account > Switch to Personal Account > Switch Back. Then I get an error because I am still running promotions. Supposedly. So I go to my promotions. There is one. Not running. I go to delete it. Error deleting promotion. So I’m stuck.
Another similar loop has happened to me many times trying to log on to my various Apple developer accounts. I log in. Email. Password. Now it wants me to do 2-factor authentication. Cool, very secure. So it automatically calls me with a code. And hangs up before I can answer. Every time. Ok, so text me the code. No text. Ok, call me. Hang up. Ugh. Try another method? Sorry, too many codes sent. Try later. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
How many people complain and call about these loops? Do the people helping us on the phone ever report these to the engineers that can fix them? Do they think this is acceptable? I’ve been locked out of my Apple developer account like this dozens of times over the last 10 years. Had my case escalated to senior staff. Is it fixed? No.
In the years I was at FSU and pointed out this logic error to them at least 6 times. Was it ever fixed? Not while I was there.
Instagram? I’m still working on that one. But I’m not holding my breath.
What’s the takeaway from all of this? As developers, entrepreneurs, and humans, we should watch for these, test for these, and ask our support team to report these sources of frustration immediately. And fix them.