Why the Costa Coffee Club app UX leaves a bitter taste
Costa Coffee has recently launched it’s Coffee Club app, aiming to give users an alternative to the old plastic loyalty cards. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite hit the mark.
It’s very easy to criticise something without knowing the detail behind the decisions made on the project. These can range from technical, time or political constraints.
Therefore this isn’t intended as a bashing of the product team that designed it but a (hopefully useful) critique from the point of a user and fellow UX designer.
Starting the brew
Costa wants you to set up an account to use the app. I don’t have to register to use the existing plastic card but I can understand why you would need to tie an account to a balance in the absence of something physical.
It’s annoying, but it’s par for the course with loyalty cards. They want your details in exchange for a few pence off your next coffee – I can deal with it.
So you sign into your account and the app launches. What you don’t realise is that the app needs to log you on every single time you open the app to display your card. This presents a fairly large issue in that if you don’t happen to have reception in the store then you can’t bring up your card. Yes they have wifi but if you haven’t used it in Costa before you need to sign up for that as well.
This leads to an odd situation where I find myself having to log into the app somewhere I know I have reception, either at home or work, just so I can claim my points. Is this better than the physical loyalty card? Not so far.
Taking a sip
So let’s assume the app manages to log in successfully. I get presented with possibly the least useful home screen i’ve seen on a mobile app. What is the number one use-case people would have for opening the app? Scanning their card at the till. Do I get shown the card when the app logs in? Nah.
Instead I see a bunch of icons to view my card details, a branch finder, account settings and “What’s new”. Half the screen is taken up with a picture of a cat I saw on holiday. Whilst this cat may be cute, I don’t believe it’s face is readable by a barcode scanner (also setting a profile picture logged me out again – annoying).
I’m really not sure what the point of the profile picture is other than to take up space on the home-screen. I can live with the points balance sitting behind the card menu but there is no excuse not to display the actual barcode here.
I know the app designers are working on passbook integration which will solve a lot of these issues. However, if you are putting an MVP (minimum viable product) in-front of users in the meantime then that’s no excuse for not thinking through the actual user needs carefully.
So really a lot of the main issues identified here should be fairly easy to solve in time and I truly hope they are by the product team.
The important takeaway is this is an app that is at least aiming to be used regularly (depending on your caffeine intake) and therefore it has to give the user what they need quickly and when they need it. Otherwise even the smallest annoyance gets magnified far quicker than in a seldom used app.
What users don’t need is a profile picture, what they do need is the barcode with or without internet reception. Oh and a flat white please.
Image courtesy David Farquhar