“Select form of payment.”
“Swipe your credit card and follow the instructions on the keypad.”
[swipe credit card]
[press Credit on the menu]
[press OK when asked if the amount is correct]
And so on…
At grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retail locations this scene plays out all day every day. This is a process most of us know so well we do it without any hesitation or confusion. However, it IS confusing. It ISN’T usable. Once you indicate your type of payment, why are you being brought through a process that requires you to indicate it again and then press Cancel? Cancel isn’t a word that leads a user to feel they are getting closer to completing their task, it is just the opposite. It leads a user to believe they are going to have to start again. Still, we press the Cancel button. Why? Because we’ve learned the system through using it enough times that we excuse its absurd violation of the standard (and pretty much only) definition of the word "cancel."
As we look at websites during usability testing projects we see website users make the same type of jumps. They understand the nuances in the search results, registration, or profile setup so they excuse the poor user experience because the value of completing the task is greater than giving up or making a fuss about the speed bump in their process. That’s not good enough. You should strive to delight your users with a good user experience. Test your member registration/renewal, event registration, community profile completion, and search functions to see what your users see. There’s much more to test than that, but these heavily used functions are worth testing if you do nothing else. Don’t expect your users to excuse your Cancel button whatever that may be.