Instacart: fame and shame


According to the “Visibility of System Status” heuristic,  a system should always inform the user about relevant updates and processes while using the product. Most of the time Instacart does an excellent job at this.


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After placing an order through Instacart you can track your order’s progress until it is completed. This is a great feature for users because it enables them to predict when the order will arrive and to see if they still have time to add/drop items to/from their order. By providing updates to the user, he/she has a better understanding of the product and its processes.


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After placing an order, Instacart sends an email confirming that the order has been received. The next email Instacart sends is a receipt when the order is completed. When I went to place an order on Instacart a few weeks ago, I signed into the portal to check the progress about 1 hour before expected delivery. To my surprise, I saw that my order had been cancelled (image above). I had not received an email from Instacart notifying me that my order had been cancelled. This is an example of poor design because it violates the visibility of system status heuristic. Instacart failed to communicate a very important system status to its user. After calling Instacart I learned that they cancelled the order because they suspected unusual activity on my account. I suggested that they should send an email notifying a user when his/her order has been cancelled.


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Instacart should send an email like this to its customers when an order is cancelled. This email template lets the user know the order has been cancelled in the email subject and the first line of the email body. The email also includes a brief explanation as to why the order was cancelled and a number that can be called to find out more information about the security risk and a service for updating the user’s account. By sending this email, the user is given an update on the system status which is extremely important. Without this email, the user will be expecting a delivery that will never arrive.

About the author: abigailorlando

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