Million Dollar Buttons

Once in a while I redesign a user interface simply to explore what it might be like for a company to make a few changes. After a few frustrating moments on the Fandango web site, I decided to create ‘million dollar buttons.’ I call them million dollar buttons because I have a hunch that if Fandango were to make these changes to their movie times page, they’d make an extra million bucks.

I’m sure a graphic designer could make much nicer looking buttons. But, my point is that users would have an improved user experience, and they would be more likely to click through to purchase tickets. Jared Spool and Luke Wroblewski have written about the $300 Million Button, and it still amazes me how small design changes could have a big impact.

Please share your thoughts on these design changes.

Form Design: The PA Turnpike’s EZ Pass Reset Username and Password Page


Every year I use the Vehicle Registration Renewal site provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Every year I get frustrated and wonder “When are they going to redesign this system?” After I completed my renewal, I shifted my attention over to the PA Turnpike’s EZ Pass site where I wanted to update some of my information. I could not remember my login, so I visited this page to regain access to my account. (Forget about calling the service center for assistance. They’re not open on weekends.)

With my transponder in hand, I failed to retrieve my information. I was rather frustrated. I don’t have time during the week to deal with this crap. I suppose that many of us experience busy schedules and feel like sometimes there is not a minute to spare.

Why Bother?

EZ Pass is supposed to be Easy

When I get frustrated with a web site, I sometimes redesign parts of it so I can work through my frustration and try to understand what elements could hinder a user from accomplishing their goals on a site. I change a few design elements and wonder if those changes would benefit the huge number people who use the site everyday. Please take a look at this side-by-side view of the bottom half of the form and share your thoughts.

side-by-side view of form elements

Design A

This is my version of the form. It changes several elements and explores a few concepts:

1. Form input overlay — I placed the transponder number input field in the context of the string of numbers which appear on the transponder. My bet is that the user will find and input their numbers faster.

Do you feel that users will naturally click on the input field and enter the numbers from their transponder?

2. Form input background color — I’ve changed the background color of the form element and I’ve given it the appearance of an inset. By bet is that the user will find the form fields more quickly than in design B.

3. Continue button — I used a different button label because the ‘Reset Account’ label is somewhat scary. I bet users will not pause and wonder what would happen if they click on the button.

Design B

This is the current design of the lower part of the page. As you can see, it needs some work.

Wasting Time?

Perhaps. Maybe not — If the PA Turnpike folks can gain any insight from this post, then I haven’t wasted our time. My hope is they’ll see some value in these concepts and at least research their efficacy.

In general, I feel our governments need to do a much better job at service design. We need show our governments ways to improve the user experience and have a positive impact on the lives for people in their respective communities. In my case, it’s the state of PA.

Do you feel we have a civic responsibility as UX professionals to redesign our government systems?