The first go with The UX Critic received a lot of positive feedback. I also started receiving examples from others. This next review comes from an experience a coworker had with Comcast. I’ll start off with the screen in question:
As you look at that, ask yourself the question: What am I supposed to do here?
Although the “total balance due” is $0.00, the mention of “past due” and the text stating “Pay past due balance” along with the red $64.89, would lead many to think they need to pay that $64.89. That’s not actually the case here – the account is current and no payment needs to be made.
Tip #1a: In a payment situation like this, emphasize the amount the customer needs to pay to bring their account current.
Tip #1b: If no amount is actually past due, DO NOT even mention a past due amount. There’s no reason to bring attention to a payment a customer doesn’t need to make.
There was some discussion that perhaps Comcast was just trying to get extra money out of the customer by having them pay an extra amount. I’m not going to speculate as to the potential nefarious nature of Comcast. While it’s possible, I have no evidence.
I will make one assumption for the purpose of this review, and that is that Comcast was attempting to make a simplified experience with this page. I say this because I’ve seen older payment pages with lots of line items. Generally it’s a good idea to present only relevant information as a user needs it. This example is between simple and complex – it’s not simple enough.
The majority of the time a customer is only going to want to know what they need to pay now. It’s not like this is a 401k or a mortgage where people might pay an extra amount. They want to pay their monthly bill and move on.
Tip #2: This screen should only ever show one possible amount – the amount due. A second screen (or state if utilizing progressive disclosure), could be used to list details. This should use a more standard format that allows for displaying a balance and how past payments have changed the balance.
This is a pretty simple and straightforward example. It’s important to do a reality check before something ships. This case likely results in some overpayments or calls to customer service that could have been avoided.