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Quinnipiac Site Development Social Media Social Media Class

Quinnipiac Assignment 08 – ICM 552 Dark Patterns in User-Oriented Design

Quinnipiac Assignment 08 – ICM 552 Dark Patterns in User-Oriented Design

Doostang versus Amtrak

For Social Media Ethics class, we were asked to compare dark patterns, which are designs which are put together in order to trick users into clicking on something (often to sign up for something they don’t want).

Doostang

Doostang is a rather unfortunately-named jobs site, claiming to have top financial and consulting jobs. Attempt to apply for a job through them, however, and you’re passed to a sign-up screen. Fair enough, a lot of jobs sites require an account. But this one’s just a little bit different.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quinnipiac Assignment 08 – ICM 552 Dark Patterns in User-Oriented Design
Doostang sign up page

Instead of defaulting to selecting the free sign-up, or not selecting any of the radio buttons at all, Doostang defaults to signing its potential customers up for a $9.95 “Premium” 2-day trial.

But wait, there’s more!

And it doesn’t make Doostang look so good. The Better Business Bureau has quite the file on Doostang, and rates them a D-. What’s the most common complaint? Billing and collection issues. A complaint dated January 21, 2014 says it best:

Complaint: I never agreed to automatic renewal or recurring payments. As can be seen in my usage history, I did not know I had a membership to this site, and never used it. At no time did I authorize recurring payments.

Desired Settlement: Please refund all monies taken after the initial payment. Please do not make me take additional action.

Business Response: Doostang is very clear in stating that all memberships are automatically renewed unless canceled. Members may cancel their subscriptions at anytime.

This is one of Dark Patterns’s classic forced continuity complaints, and it’s also a roach motel, in that it’s deceptively simple to sign up for a Premium service on Doostang, but it’s a real bear to get out of one.

Amtrak

Amtrak, like many other common carrier transportation companies, offers the user the option to purchase travel insurance. However, the option is just that, an option.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quinnipiac Assignment 08 – ICM 552 Dark Patterns in User-Oriented Design
Amtrak travel insurance purchase page

While the questions about buying travel insurance are set off in a different-colored box, and you must pass through this screen and make a decision before you can pay for your ticket, Amtrak doesn’t choose either travel insurance option for you. Instead, you are required to decide, one way or the other. There’s no question that Amtrak is trying to make the buying of travel insurance seem like a smart thing to do. But the consumer isn’t beaten over the head with numerous dubious reasons to make the purchase, and the screen is easy to understand.

Turning Doostang Away from the Dark Side

Doostang has two jobs to do, possibly three.

  1. Eliminate the preselection of anything on the sign-up page, or default to the free option. Clearly explain why a job seeker would want a Premium option. End forced continuity.
  2. Make it easy to cancel an accidentally added Premium service by adding online cancellation options and lengthening the time a consumer has before a full refund is no longer permitted. Close the roach motel.
  3. (Optional) Add more free services. Currently, Doostang only allows for applying to one job under the free service. This is the job connected to the referring URL. What if the free service was expanded, say, to that entire session, or for three job applications? A consumer just surfing in from a referral URL would never pay and, perhaps, would be served more advertisements. But someone clicking around, applying to a few jobs or opening up a long session would be using more valuable materials. Complaints of not knowing they were signing up for a paid service would have a lot less credence.

Come to the light, Doostang! It’s not too late!

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Facebook Quinnipiac Site Development Social Media

Quinnipiac Assignment #9 – J-Krak Facebook Page

Quinnipiac Assignment #9 – J-Krak Facebook Page

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J-Krak Facebook Page

Once again, we did not have to create a video this week for Quinnipiac Assignment #9. Instead, my partner, Kim Scroggins, and I were required to create a Facebook page for our J-Krak fans community (which in our blog, we were referring to as KrakHeads). We decided to call the page J-Krak RI in order to better emphasize our intimate connection to the state of Rhode Island.

The Facebook page was designed with a standard Creative Commons background image of sheet music and our preexisting KrakHeads logo (Kim made it by combining a Creative Commons image of a vinyl record with lettering in a font that we selected together) was used as our logo and the avatar for the page itself. That avatar has since been replaced with an image of John Krakowski and John Cairo together (the avatar was replaced after our class was finished).

We were pleasantly surprised when we hit one hundred likes in about six and a half hours. Currently, the new page has 125 fans on Facebook.  We are very excited about this, and Kim and I feel that we have definitely found our platform!

Thank you for following! And party on!

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Career changing SEO Site Development

Website Planning

I suppose I should have planned my site better or maybe not just gone in and barreled my way in just to see what I could do.

I don’t think that’s truly awful as I have some ambitions but they feel very possible and within reach. I look at my notes and I see — yes, I need to fix and put up Google Search. I need to play with keywords some more. I need to do … a lot.

And SEO! Oh my gosh. There’s a boatload to learn there and I’m still busy reading the books. I can’t recall who said that Time is Nature’s Way of making it so that not everything happens all at once. And I can live with that as an idea. It shouldn’t all happen in one shot. It should flow and develop.

Patience, a virtue. And sometimes an elusive one. But one thing is for certain — once a year elapsed, suddenly, I had a Google Page Rank of 3. Was that by design? Well, yes. But the science and art of getting a Google Page Rank of anything over zero is so obscure and unknown as to be akin to deciphering the Dead Sea Scrolls. Now, I get that it’s all proprietary, e. g. intellectual property, etc., but c’mon! It gets silly after a while. Jigger this, don’t jigger that. Say this in some particular, special, magical fashion, and not in another.

Don’t spam. Well, yeah, that makes sense. But what is seen as proto-spam isn’t always. And what’s seen as non-spam, I suspect, sometimes is. I do recognize that Google is attempting to make rules to cover as many scenarios as possible. And they wish to check out what people like I do by using computer algorithms rather than actual humans, in order to be somewhat timely when it comes to investigating websites. But! It remains frustrating and, in my opinion, unnecessarily mysterious. A clue, s’il vous plait, and by that I mean a real one, by someone who is there and really, truly knows. The rest, it seems, are speculating, with varying degrees of accuracy and results.

I swear that figuring out how to get a good or at least decent Page Rank is harder than translating the Upanishads.

Plus I’m developing my strategy. It will, I am sure, change. But I already have ways to promote what I’m doing. This is not quite like cliff-jumping because I have experience in promoting my Examiner articles (http://www.examiner.com/x-34454-Boston-Extreme-Weight-Loss-Examiner). Oh, look, some promotion!

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Personal Site Development

Appointments

Life is outta control. Well, it’s not that bad.  But I’ve got a lot going on, even though I’m not employed. Looking for work is, as they (who?) say, a full-time job in and of itself.

Hence I’ve got a somewhat full calendar. Plus I’m working on the site and also doing work out stuff to lose weight. Which I have to schedule these days in order to be sure it happens. It is, of course, better than sitting around and doing nada but it’s a tad overwhelming at times.

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Site Development

Sunday Sunday Sunday

I suppose this blog is going to encompass not only my job search/career change efforts but also talk a bit about the development of the site in general.

I’m finally getting my act in gear in terms of uniformity and a vision.

Now, you might say to yourself, what’s this “finally” business? After all, haven’t you been open for less than a week?

Too true, but I like to be organized, and it’s obvious that, with a website, you need to be organized from the get-go.

Hence now I’ve got three (yay!) uniform pages. The resume is going to take more work as it’s such a different format from the other stuff.

I’m also going to, at some point, do some painting. I want to make my own background, my own button(s) and my own logo. I am not a great painter by any means, but it’s something I enjoy doing. Plus, ha! There’s no issues with copyright. I gotta figure I own my own watercolors.

Today we’re (I’m a married-type person) off to a Celtics game. Go green dudes!