The Date Gave Microsoft AdCenter's User Interface Away
A single tiny flaw on a very important facility can ruin a user's day.
Today I needed to check past figures regarding our search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns at Microsoft Ad Center. I was trying to get figures from 2 months ago and I can't believe how long it took me to figure out how to get the figures for May 2007.
The campaigns list page only lets me view data from a very limited pre-defined list of periods (This Month, Yesterday, Last Month, This Year, Last Year, Entire Time).
Having used quite a number of report applications (Google Analytics, Nielsen Netratings Site Census, Yahoo Search Marketing), I expected a custom date input field (or those fancy date widgets) to be present. But there's none.
So I tried clicking into 'Reports'. My session unfortunately timed-out within 10 minutes while I was writing this blog. I just did a screen capture, and wrote some text. And when I went back it asked me to log on again. And so I did and I clicked into 'Reports' again. Here's what I got.
I tried twice and got the same page. On my third attempt to access the 'Reports' page, a page finally appeared -- without it's CSS / style / decoration. On my fourth attempt, I was successful.
Ah, finally I was able to see a 'Custom date range' option. I clicked (please take note, one more click). And then the custom date fields appeared and I was so excited to type in the date because the form fields looked editable.
But then to my disappointment, I cannot edit the dates. I thought the problem was with my keyboard because the date fields look editable, they are not grayed-out or something like that. But really, my keyboards were fine. I was then forced to click on the date icons (note: 2 more clicks), click three times more to select "May" from yet another dropdown, and then "1", click three times more to select "May" from the dropdown of the 2nd calendar icon, and "31".
And then I tried to select the type of report that I wanted, I do not want the default "Account Performance" report, I want to view "Campaign Performance". So I clicked on the dropdown menu (note: 1 more click), and guess what...
All controls, buttons, submit buttons, were disabled. No, I don't want to refresh the whole page again and click 8 times more to have the whole screen frozen.
It was indeed a terrible user experience.