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tech usability web

Confusing Web Pages

Another little rant about the usability of web pages.

We’re planning a weekend away visiting friends in the West Country (I know, I should make sure my passport is up to date) and we’re going to travel by train – leaving on Friday evening and returning on Sunday afternoon. So I decided to book tickets in advance through The Train Line.

We need to travel from Paddington to Exeter so that’s what I looked for. Because it was just a tentative enquiry I didn’t bother telling the site that there were two of us travelling. It came back with a reasonable looking ticket for £38. At the same time, my wife was looking at the same thing but being more thorough that me she filled in the fact that it there would be two people travelling. And she couldn’t find the £38 ticket that I had seen. The site was showing her the same tickets for £76.

You’ve probably just worked out what was going on, but please bear with me.

I wondered if it was a problem with limited availability – maybe there was only one cheap seat left on this train. So I tried again and this time I said that two people were travelling. And I was given the £76 fare instead of the £38.

And that was about the point at which I realised what was going on. The site was showing us the total price for all tickets. but it really didn’t make that clear. How hard would it be for them to display the price as “2 x £38 = £76”? Or to put “All prices shown are for two passengers” on the top of the list.

I don’t think I’m particularly stupid – but it had me confused for an hour or so. I wonder how many sales The Train Line have lost because people think they are overpriced?

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