Posts in Technology


When Form Rebels Against Function

A short look at Yahoo!’s Billion Dollar Bracket sign up

I was in my quiet place this morning, that place I do most of my thinking and reading (you know the place). I took out my phone and navigated my browser to Yahoo!’s Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge. In case you haven’t heard about this, Quicken Loans and Warren Buffet have teamed up with Yahoo! Sports to put on a nation-wide March Madness bracket challenge.

We are excited to team up with Quicken Loans and Warren Buffett to give fans the chance to win a billion dollars using all of the information, tools and services available from Yahoo Sports.

— Ken Fuchs, VP and head of Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance and Product Partnerships.

Poor example, but trust me, the Yahoo! Fantasy Sports app is phenomenal.

Quicken hired Yahoo! to design and build the online bracket experience. Now if you’ve ever used a Yahoo! mobile app or mobile website, you would think this was a great partnership. Yahoo!’s Fantasy Football app continues to impress me year after year. I love the design and experience. They left no feature out. However, because of the depth of functionality within the app, it does take some learning to get comfortable with it. I’ve been using it for 3 years now, and I continue to discover new features. So when I heard that Quicken was partnering with Yahoo! to create the bracket challenge experience, I was very excited.

But back to the lesson at hand. As I was sitting there in my quiet place, trying to register for the challenge, I was floored by how difficult and time consuming the entire process was. Let me explain.

Step 1 — Registration: C+ Grade

This is just the top part of the registration screen. There’s another dropdown and 3 check boxes below.

The first registration screen was daunting to say the least. I’m surprised I actually kept moving forward once I saw this. Usually an online form this extensive would send my mouse running for the ‘Close’ button, but I stuck with it out of curiosity. My first reaction, “Holy cow! How did Yahoo allow this to happen?”

I understand that Quicken would never offer up a hefty bounty like $1 billion dollars without getting some sales leads out of it (and rightly so). But why do you need my address and DOB? But hey, at least they didn’t auto-check all the special offers for me. And another thing they did right was bringing up the numerical keypad for dates and Zip code.

Step 2 — Sign In: F Grade

So after taking 2 minutes to fill out all those fields on my phone, I’m then sent to the Yahoo! account login screen, which begs the question, “Why couldn’t I have just done this first?” But mine is not to question why…. Actually that’s exactly what mine is.

Yahoo! did it right by bringing up the numerical keypad for numerical entries like Zip and dates.


I fill in my Yahoo! account info, and wouldn’t you know it, they’ve updated their account security settings. So now I need to create a new password (Submit)…it can’t be the same password (Submit)…it needs an uppercase letter (Submit)…it needs a number(Submit)…it needs a special character (Submit)…it needs a DNA sample from your dead great great grandfather on your mother’s side (Submit). Finally!

Oh but wait, there’s more security measures. Now we need to send you an SMS verification code. Close browser…open SMS…copy code…close SMS…open browser…paste code…Submit. Success!

Step 3 — Registration 2, Electric Boogaloo: Fx2 Grade

Oh not so fast, eager beaver. You thought you were already registered and logged in? Yeah you’re not. After spending the last 6 minutes (still in my quiet place) filling out the world’s most elaborate registration form and trying to excavate the blood types of dead relatives, I’m greeted with this screen.

Let’s do it all again, since it was such a great experience the last time!


If you said, “Hey that looks just like the initial registration page,” you would be correct. If you also said, “I thought you already did that,” you would receive extra credit for being observant to the obvious. Yes. I’ve already been here, and yes, I’ve already completed this form. Why am I here again? Do they think I might have purchased a home in the 5 minutes I’ve been gone? I filled out so many form fields I started to wonder if I had.

Now I probably should have stopped here and just cut my losses. But I’m already pot committed at this point (all pun intended), and I was determined not to let Yahoo get the best of me. (Also, from here on out I will not be including the signature ‘!’ when referring to Yahoo. There is no longer any excitement in my attitude toward them.)

So I spend another 2 minutes filling out the registration form…again.

Email verification is the 4th level of Yahoo’s UX nirvana.


Step 4 — Email Verification: ‘You Won’t Beat Me’ Grade

I just want to fill out my damn bracket! Why won’t you let me?!

Close browser…open email app…open email from Yahoo…click on verification link.

At this point, it has taken me nearly 10 minutes to register for this stupid contest that I’m probably not even going to win. But I’m determined to get through. At this point, who gives a damn about the picks. I just want to see where this rabbit trail leads me. With every touch of a button, I continue to be amazed at how badly Yahoo screwed this up. I’m shocked.

No, I will not forgive your elves.


Step 5 — Elves at Work: WTF Grade

I literally laughed out loud when I saw this screen (it’s OK, I was still in my quiet place, alone). I looked around to make sure I wasn’t being pranked. This seemed like something straight out of Candid Camera. “You can’t possibly be serious?” was all I could think.

My window of quiet was quickly coming to an end. Soon I would have to get back to work. I imagined my coworkers getting worried about me. Maybe they were drawing straws to see who would have to come rescue me. Do they know I’m just trying to fill out a March Madness bracket? I bet they’d have a good laugh if they did.

Right before I left the solitude and peacefulness of that place, I clicked the ‘Refresh’ button on the screen. I was thinking that I would just continue this in a couple hours when I went for a coffee break. Little did I know what awaited me.

No words.


Step 6 — Download the App: ‘I hate you, yahoo’ Grade

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Man, this is a long article.” That’s exactly my point. How does registering to fill out a bracket become a 6 Step process? You should ask the wizards over at yahoo (no caps, not anymore).

With the ‘Refresh’ click, I thought I was entering the Holy of Holies, the sacred place of bracketology, hope, and fortune. I was wrong. Upon ‘Refresh’, I was greeted by this screen you see here. You have got to be kidding me.

Since I‘m a sucker for self-deprecation, I click the button, which takes me to the Play Store, and I download the free yahoo sports app (which is different than the fantasy sports app that I have and love).

Upon opening the app, I’m greeted with a familiar screen…Log In. Again.

So this is what heaven looks like. I thought it would be brighter.


Step 7 — Make Your Picks: ‘Why didn’t you say that to begin with?’ Grade

I made it. I finally made it. The joy of accomplishment ws overhwelming. I began to tear up. Knowing that I had endured through the chaos, that I didn’t give up, made the victory that much sweeter. And my prize was before me, in all it’s glory and splendor. I was richly rewarded for my troubles.

Which of these picks is ludicrous?

The tourney section of the yahoo sports app is incredible! It shows your current bracket right up front. Plus you can create a pool for your friends or office or church. When you click on your bracket, the interface is so simple and intuitive. It’s just a zoomed in bracket. It’s that easy. Swipe up/down, left/right to view the bracket, make your picks by simply selecting who you think will win. Their name automatically gets populated into the next round.

It was difficult not picking SDSU, but I have to go with what I know, which is nothing.


For the finals, you have to input what you think the final score will be (they use it as a tiebreaker). Instead of using an input field, they use a scroll wheel, which is so much nicer!

What are the lessons learned? It’s ok to laugh out loud in the bathroom, as long as no one else is in there.

And please think through the whole process of an experience! It doesn’t matter how amazing your app is, if it takes someone the better half of an hour to get into it. Do not let form rebel against function.