Horrible online experience – RedBrickPizza.com

I am not one to usually complain on my blog, mainly because I think the people reading my blog could give a rats ass about my problems. However, this time I feel I need to complain because a) it has to do with online user experience (something I am passionate about) and b) pizza (something every developer is passionate about ;).

The other night I went online because my wife and I decided we wanted to order from Red Brick Pizza. Originally the plan was to just look up the phone number. Once I got to the site I remembered you can order online. Last time we ordered from Red Brick this is exactly what I did and it worked out fine so I figured I would try again.

The initial experience is standard, you hit the homepage and you are greeted with a massive shot of a mouth watering pizza that looks to be the size of the Millennium Falcon. From there I clicked on the “Menu” link in the top menu, again very standard for a restaurant site. Once I am in the menu I can use the left side navigation to browser their menu and below the menu is the “Order Online” button.

Little did I know the hell that awaited beyond that “Order Online” button.The first screen you are presented with inside “Order Online” is a Red Brick’s “Location Search Utility” (so official, geez). OK, I entered my ZIP code and clicked “Show Locations”. Ok, first problem, did anyone catch it? Earlier I mentioned that I have ordered online from Red Brick before. Why didn’t they remember my information. Hello, marketing opportunity, make me create an account, that way it is convenient for me next time I come, and it is convenient for you because you can mail me crap that I won’t read. Instead now I have to go through, enter my zip code, and select the restaurant that is closest to my house. That’s right, I have to select the restaurant closest to my house. Dear Red Brick, geo-location isn’t anything new. How about you suggest the restaurant that is closest to my house? Or pre-select it. I realize 2% of the time users may want to select a different restaurant because they are going to be on the other side of town or are picking it up en-route to a friends house, have you heard of a “Change Pickup Location” button?

Their “Location Search Utility” results page has a few issues too. When I entered my zip code, the results came back with two restaurants but only one restaurant is plotted on the Google map, the furthest one from my house (this may explain a few things…keep reading). Being extremely hungry I wasn’t in the mood for reading, and because the map was so zoomed out, I clicked the map plot, and clicked the “Go To Store Page” link in the map point call out.

Finally I made it to the online ordering page. Again, they show me the zoomed out, view from pluto, map with the map point again, not entirely necessary on this page. Below that is their entire menu listed with three columns to the right of each available item. In each column is a large, medium, and small number ticker and the corresponding price for each size. In Firefox, the layout of this page was horrible, none of the number tickers lined up with the corresponding items, sometimes the number tickers wrapped to the next line so you had no idea which item you were selecting. Luckily the two items I was ordering were at the absolute top of the list and the absolute bottom so it didn’t take much to figure out if I was using the correct number ticker.Well, there are so many things wrong with this page. Even in 1996 this page would have been horrible. The largest complaint, why isn’t this page merged with the menu they already have? I massive scrolling page with no categorization is just horrible user experience.

Ok, this may be because they are using an off the shelf e-Commerce solution and they were unable to incorporate it with their existing site. Nope, if you check the url, the same query string schema is used in the marketing type pages so we are still in the same system, we didn’t switch to https (you’ll see why shortly). I think it just comes down to laziness, someone, somewhere probably created an excel spread sheet with the prices and sizes available and gave it to a developer, that developer then cut and pasted that content into Dreamweaver (check the source, lots of MM_, not difficult to figure out they were using DW).Next issue, you can’t click on any of the items in the scrolling list? I see “NEW! Pizza Bianco”, however, I have no idea what a Pizza Bianco is. As a user, if I really want to know, I have to click on menu, then click on signature pizza, and find Pizzas Bianco. Then when I find it and navigate back to online ordering page my session was wiped and I have to start over, right back to the location selector…UGH! A simple solution would be to store the session and make each item clickable so the user can check out what each item is. The ideal solution would be to incorporate the ordering and menu sections but I already mentioned that. A middle of the road solution would be to have a mouse over div created that showed the image and description of the product. I assume all this data is stored somewhere since the site is running on Cold Fusion, there must be some sort of back-end?

Also, what is up with all the number tickers? Why aren’t they just using combo boxes, each combo box would contain the three sizes and the price. This would make the page look less daunting, would fix the layout issues, and personally I feel it is more standard and what users are used to. Not 16 thousand number tickers. Oh ya, if you click the number tickers too quickly the price in the top right doesn’t update, without looking at the code there must be some interval set up which isn’t catching the change event when you click fast.

Wow, this blog posting is getting a little long. I could go on and on and on about this horrible experience. Before I wrap it up I want to mention one more, and this one is the kicker. Once you have magically figured out what you want and possibly selected the correct size and quantity from the slew of number tickers and figured out that the “Proceed” button is way up in the top right of the browser you are redirected to the “Your Order” page. Once again I am asked to enter my location information. Didn’t I do this already? Note to developer <cfset session.zipcode = #FORM.zipcode#> does wonders for usability. Oh ya, I hope you don’t want to change anything, because if you click back at this point the number tickers don’t reset but the box in the top right that displays the current price of your order does so it appears that nothing is selected. Ok, now for the real fun. Fill in your contact information, click Submit (mmmm, I can already taste my pizza), and you are greeted with message “A pizza ambassador will contact you within 10 minutes to verify your order”. WHAT?!?!? call me? I just spent all this time online for nothing? I still have to deal with the phone.

Oh ya, so I lied, one more huge thing. After the pizza ambassador called me and confirmed my order, I went to pick it up and bingo, it wasn’t at the restaurant 1/2 mile from my house that I selected. It was at the restaurant on the other side of town. Interesting how the only restaurant that showed up on the map was the restaurant on the other side of town, however, the text results showed the restaurant 1/2 a mile from my house. So frustrating!

Red Brick, if you are going to offer online ordering, truely make it online ordering, don’t make users do a ton of unnecessary work and eventually end up on the phone with them anyway. Aixen Solutions, you may want to go back to the drawing board on this one.

Just my 2 cents, and in case anyone was wondering, the food was great, a little cold cause I had to drive so far to pick it up, but still tasty! They can’t make a website but they do make a decent pizza.

4 Comments

  1. Nice post. I had a similar experience with Quiznos. I hate when I have to create an account to check the prices. Then after I created an account, it says call the store for the latest prices. Why not make this available from the start?

    Quiznos site doesn’t suck as bad as Red Brick but it is still frustrating.

  2. I may be a little old fashion, but my advice would be to next time pick up the yellow pages, followed by a phone call… I’ve ordered a few pizza’s and this technique has never let me down. I also have a very special draw where I keep all my menus that come in the mail. It may be a little archaic, but this method is very effective! If you have any questions you can pick up the phone and call me.

  3. ewer

    you redevelop the site for them with the ultimate user experience

  4. Great points.. the website sucks.. its very basic and they could care less..

    But google woulda got you the number faster then going to the site.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *