Account Management Deserves Your Design Love, Too

I spent my day off catching up on a lot of reading, including Google’s Material Design guidelines. As a start up PM, I was blown away at the excruciating consideration and detail that could be put into any software, but when you consider that it is Google designing their flagship mobile platform, it makes sense. They can invest in making sure the animations and shadows have been perfectly crafted and have thorough documentation to ensure everyone designing for their platforms are using the same visual language.

I also spent a fair amount of time online shopping… er… researching other ecommerce sites. I couldn’t log in to my Nordstrom account, nor could I get the password reset to work (a rant for another day), so I checked out using a secondary email address. When I went looking for my confirmation email, I found:

1. Email forwarding had stopped working from my secondary email
2. Logging in to the secondary account was suspended due to “suspicious activity”
3. …which was probably me, according to the email sent to my primary email account with my ip address listed, stating that I had used the correct password in a fraudulent attempt to log in
4. This email has a link to reset my password, but it is a link to a help article instructing me to log into my account to reset my password, not a password reset link. Not helpful, given that I can’t log in.
5. Instead, I go through the hoops to prove that I own this account, including the last date I had access, the date 5+ years ago when I created it, my frequently emailed contacts, etc.
6. On the last step of random questions, I get an Internal Server error and am instructed to restart the process.
7. I send a message to Google’s help, which for all I know is an unmonitored inbox somewhere.
8. Not expecting a response anytime soon, I happened to open my Spam folder, select all & delete— when I realized in the split second after I hit “Delete” I saw what I think was a message from Google Account Support
9. …but there is no “undo” option in the Spam folder, which takes all messages and skips “Trash” option and instead sends all messages straight to an unrecoverable hell.

So what I’m getting at here, in this exceptionally long winded story about my email account, is this: you can’t build great products if you let the foundation of how they work together rot in favor of the aesthetics. I’m sure wildly different teams work at these features completely separately from one another at Google, but users don’t care about that. What I see is that Google hasn’t focused on maintaining or perfecting the most basic account management processes for me to use their services– keeping my account secure, and helping me maintain access to the considerable amount of information that I have trusted them to store in my behalf. I know the exact depth of a floating button and how it should quickly accelerate onto the screen, but if it doesn’t log me in, what’s the point? Frequently the most important pieces of your product aren’t the sexy ones, but if you can take the painful things like account management and make them simple— that is the kind of design I respect.

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