Recently, I decided to start participating in the Food Lion MVP program again. It’s simple enough: you show them your card and get a discount. I only needed to hop online and order a new one. Except, it wasn’t so simple.
Where The Misery Started
Getting into my account was extremely easy. Intrusively so, with the large popup blocking everything onscreen.
But, that is where the ease of use ended.
Once inside, user experience is thrown out the window. 90% of the screen is dedicated to video content for other FoodLion.com features. The rest is made up of poorly spaced menus and information I wouldn’t need.
I already know where I live. I know My email address and phone number. And I know which Food Lion I visit the most often. Why would I want to sign in to FoodLion.com to check any of that information?
As a paying customer, there isn’t much I can do from here. The majority of the screen is dedicated to videos and my contact information. My options for giving Food Lion my money are severely limited. This not only leaves me frustrated and inclined to leave as a customer, but reduces Food Lion’s return on investment for their website.
It gets even worse from the perspective of my use case. From the picture above, where would you click to order a new MVP card? It shouldn’t be difficult. The whole point is ease of use.
I clicked the “MORE INFO +” button next to the picture of the MVP card.
This Is Where It Gets Awful
After clicking “MORE INFO +” you’re not only signed out of your account but sent directly to an ad page.
The only relevant information to the button I clicked is in the blue banner at the top. Except, I wanted more information about my MVP card and I was already signed in. This completely confused me. The MVP button should have led to the MVP page. They gave me as and kicked out of my account instead. I would even wager that Food Lion was confused, given the address for that page is:
https://www.foodlion.com/content/food-lion/ … /_reason=unknown&j_reason_code=unknown
But after a few seconds, I found a prompt to sign in. It was frustrating. Most users would have left the site entirely by this point. But I was curious about the design of the site.
And… It took me right back to where I started:
Not only is the “MORE INFO +” button useless, but it signs users out and takes them through a loop.
As a customer with a support need, I was frustrated and had my time wasted. By this point, I would assume that upwards of 90% of users would leave and never use an MVP card. I can’t say this for sure since I haven’t user tested the website. But then again, neither has Food Lion.
It’s A Text Adventure Game!
Since clicking on the MVP card to get information about a new MVP card was not the solution, I kept trying.
The next most ideal place to look was the menu on the left side. I chose the poorly phrased, “MY PROFILE | MVP ACCOUNT | FOOD LION” button. Although, the top three buttons on that menu say “MVP ACCOUNT.” This is extremely confusing for someone trying to get to their MVP account. It also makes the top three buttons nearly useless and wastes even more space.
It, of course, signs me out again and puts me through the loop another time:
I was almost convinced that this was a joke until I got to the next page:
This time the entire page is useless information. The only thing related to my MVP card is the number of the old one I don’t have.
After so long of clicking around, I settled in the footer. After all, that’s where support links usually go. There was even a link to the MVP program! What could go wrong?
This time, the popup was reassuring too! I could get a new MVP card!
After this, I gave up and called Food Lion’s customer support to have a new card mailed to me. Since then I have been unable to link the card to my account through the website, but I’ve made my point. The state of usibility at FoodLion.com is embarrassingly poor.
As I mentioned to the customer support representative, I’m a young guy and a Web Developer. I could not imagine an elderly person or — even worse — someone disabled trying to use their website. They have ramps leading to their automatic doors and power scooters in their buildings. But their website isn’t accessible to the most capable person.
Just like a storefront, a website is there to promote growth and encourage sales. I have no doubt that Food Lion paid good money to have both built with that goal in mind. But if the store entrance was a flight of stairs leading to a revolving door that led back to the stairs, customers would leave and never buy a thing.
A website is no different. It doesn’t matter how close you are to your customers, how well you advertise, or if you have the best deal if your website is difficult to use. The goal is to make the entire process as easy as possible to make buying more enjoyable. Customers will very quickly associate any frustration with your website with your brand.
What Can You Take Away From This?
As we’ve covered before, a website is an investment. In Food Lion’s case, they invested poorly by hiring designers that did not consider usability. I can confidently say that FoodLion.com is returning a fraction of what it could with a better design. Here’s what you should consider to make a better investment:
Make actions easy to find. Customers are coming to your website with an action in mind. They want that immediately and with no friction. Otherwise, they leave and you lose profits. Make meeting your customer’s goals the biggest thing on the screen and the easiest to find.
Use clear language. Yes, you’re a cool expert and know all the industry terms. But your customers often don’t. Your writing should be accessible to someone learning about your business. Your menus should be distinct and meaningful. “My Profile | MVP Account | Food Lion,” “My Shopping List | MVP Account | Food Lion,” and “My Wallet | MVP Account | Food Lion,” may make perfect sense to you. But to most customers, it’s complicated and too similar to make a quick decision.
Test your website. You don’t need a whole team or a huge budget. Yourself and a few friends using the website will give you plenty of information. Often, you’ll catch things that could have crippled your profits. Could you imagine sending your customers around in a circle like that? It takes a few minutes to check everything.
Consider everyone. Not all of your customers are going to have perfect vision and experience with the internet. Your website should be as easy to get into as your place of business. Where someone that finds these things difficult can do it just as easily as anyone else. Legible text, clean and easy to read pages, and direct language are a good start.
If you feel that your business could benefit from a more usable website, reach out. I would be thrilled to work with you.