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usability

Tesco website(s): major usability failure(s)

Rant warning. I’ve just spent a deeply unsatisfying 45 minutes trying to redeem a Clubcard voucher that was due to expire tonight. Not only are Tesco’s sites a horrible mishmash of differing designs with no clear consistent elements, their hyperlinking is confusing, misleading, and ultimately disappointing.

Take a look at this screenshot:

Clubcard website screenshot
Clubcard website screenshot

That picture on the left of the screenshot, just above the “CDs” label, is a link to Tesco Entertainment. Brilliant, thought I. I can grab a cheap Springsteen CD or something. Having eventually settled on The Rising, I went to checkout, only to be nonplussed by the registration. I entered my details to sign up: the system told me I was already registered. Huh? Oh, it must be thinking of my Tesco Groceries account – even though the two websites have little in common, and are not even on the same domain. Look at these two screenshots. Compare. Do you see much evidence of consistency?

Tesco Entertainment login screen
Tesco Entertainment login screen
Tesco.com login screen
Tesco.com login screen

Here I refer to Nielsen’s heuristics:

Consistency and standards: Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing.

Don’t get me wrong, having the same login details for all parts of the Tesco site is a Very Good Thing. But obscuring this great feature by inconsistent interface design is just stupidity on a plate.

Moving on, I wondered where to enter the Clubcard voucher. There was nowhere clear to redeem Clubcard vouchers. I tried the promotional code box. Didn’t work. Went further on to the payment page to see if I could enter it there. No dice. The help page was useless. No mention of redeeming Clubcard vouchers. Where next?

Tesco Entertainment's help page
Tesco Entertainment's help page

Google, in the end. Suspecting Tesco might, unsurprisingly, have made a mess of communicating with their users, I Googled “tesco clubcard entertainment” and finally found another help page for Tesco Entertainment. Note the complete lack of design consistency with the site it’s supposed to be helping with, Tesco Entertainment. Nor is it clear why there need to be two separate help pages.

A different Tesco Entertainment help page
A different Tesco Entertainment help page

There it was. Under “How do I use my Clubcard Vouchers online?” it said the following: “We are very sorry, Clubcard Vouchers cannot be used to buy CDs, DVDs and Games on Tesco Entertainment.” Then why on earth does it link to Tesco Entertainment on the Clubcard website?

Fantastic. Thanks for wasting my time. Tesco, you managed to fail in all these ways, by:

  • using woefully inconsistent designs across your different websites, especially for login screens;
  • implying Clubcard holders can redeem vouchers where they cannot, in reality; and
  • maintaining two separate help pages for the same site, one of which has to be found and accessed externally by Google.

Clubcard is supposed to be a loyalty scheme. I certainly don’t feel very loyal to Tesco after tonight.

As a bonus, as a further example of Tesco’s complete inability to even maintain consistency on the same sub-site, compare these two screenshots from the Clubcard website:

Navigation bar for Tesco Clubcard home page
Navigation bar for Tesco Clubcard home page

Click on the “Clubcard rewards” navigation bar link and you get this:

Navigation bar for Tesco Clubcard Rewards page
Navigation bar for Tesco Clubcard Rewards page

As you can see, it’s exactly the same, apart from everything. Not the slightest bit confusing, of course.