I found an ecard from my sister in my inbox this AM- very sweet, but the pick up instructions from Hallmark just boggled my mind.
The "click here" link is, I'm not kidding, 3 lines long. So of course it had newlines inserted into it somewhere along the way in coming into my inbox, and was unclickable. I could have pasted it back together, but instead I moved to the "If you have trouble using the link" directions. Here they are:
1. Click this link to go to our homepage, or copy and paste it into your browser's address line:
2. Click on the "Free E-cards" link.
3. Click the link on the upper left hand side of the page that says "Pick up an e-card."
4. Enter your e-mail address and this retrieval number: XXXXXXXXXXXX.
5. Click "Display Greeting." Your e-card will be displayed.
Hallmark, I should NOT have to hunt for a link & click 5 times to pick up my ecard. What you should do is make a SHORT url for me to type in or click on- say, "pickup.hallmark.com" or "www.hallmark.com/pickup" -take your pick.
I should NOT have to click back to the original email to see which one of my addresses my sister sent my message to. You should trust your ecard code generation uniqueness algorithm enough to just give me the card if I paste in a code. These are ecards, not something that needs super fancy extra verification of also pasting in an email address.
Of course, what you really should do is make the original pick up URL something short so that it didn't break. How about www.hallmark.com/pickup.whatever?card=XXXXXXX for starters?
Make things easy for your users. Then use your own tools, note where you're frustrated at the experience, and make it easier. Find extra steps that are stupid, get rid of them, make the computer do more of the work than the human using it.