User experience: but the big things matter too…

As well as sending me the LAUNCHcast link my brother also mentioned he’d left me a voicemail on Yahoo! IM.

So I fired up Adium for the first time in ages (I rarely use Yahoo! IM) and sure enough, up popped a message saying I had mail so I click through and log in…

You haven’t logged in to mail in the last four months so we’ve deactivated your account. Why don’t you pay us some money so we don’t do this again? Or are you going to be cheap and risk us shutting you down again?

(okay, I paraphrased that a little, but it’s how the message comes over)

So I decide to be cheap.

And then I have to log in again.

And for some reason I get the above page again.

So I choose to be cheap again.

And log in again.

And finally reach my Yahoo! Mail page…

Where there are no messages.

There was at least one message there 10 minutes ago, I know this because Yahoo! IM told me there was. But apparently reactivating my account made it disappear. So Yahoo! IM wasn’t aware that my mail is deactivated. Isn’t it nice when a single vendor’s systems work so well together.

It gets worse though. Apparently Yahoo! don’t bother to tell people who send mail to deactivated accounts that the recipient will never see it. Even HotMail, pariah of the free email world used to bounce email sent to inactive accounts. So, until I tell him otherwise, he’ll think I’ve seen it.

Of course all of the above pales into insignificance compared to the biggest user experience crime Yahoo! have committed here.

One Yahoo! ID. So much fun!
Use your single ID for everything from checking Mail to checking out Yahoo! Music, Photos, Messenger, and more.

One Yahoo! ID. Something which Yahoo! touts as being a really good thing. In theory it could be. One username and password for multiple services, a single login for your mail, blog, IM and all the other services. Different services with unified access. Making all of Yahoo!’s services operate as one.

Except it isn’t all that. It’s just a username and password that you can use for different things. Those things appear to a casual user to have very little interaction with each other. If it was a truly unified login, then the fact that I have logged into Yahoo!360 several times this year would have flagged me as an active Yahoo! user and my mail would not have been deactivated.

It is being sold by Yahoo! as the ultimate login but the way it has been implemented means that there are too few benefits to counteract the security issue of having one login for multiple services.

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