It was my first week at the company. I’m logging in to a familiar platform for social media posting: Hootsuite. Using the company’s login, I get right in and see that some of the accounts need reconnecting. No biggie, right? WRONG!
I had all the logins and permissions I needed to connect the accounts, but for some reason Facebook and Instagram would not allow me to connect. I’d used Hootsuite before as a freelancer and was familiar with the steps. So why couldn’t I connect to the company Facebook page or login through the Instagram account?
I hopped on with a customer support rep who tried to offer me some helpful support. None of the steps or advice worked.
I looked on the Facebook and Instagram side and found out that it might help to have my boss, who was an admin on the Facebook page, connect the two accounts. He logged on and verified the connection between the two pages, meaning I should have been able to make the connection through Hootsuite. WRONG AGAIN!
I went on Instagram, switched the account from business to personal and back to business again. I logged out of Facebook and back in again, NADA.
Finally! I figured out that because I had logged into Hootsuite previously and connected to another Facebook and Instagram account, it was defaulting to that old account, EVEN THOUGH I was logged in to a completely different Hootsuite account. Because I was connecting through my personal Facebook page that I used on another Hootsuite account, it was defaulting to those settings. I had to get my boss to log in from his device, confirm the connections on his side, and only then was I able to access the accounts seamlessly. Talk about a headache, right?
How to identify bad UX
So what makes this a bad user experience? Glad you asked! There are three main data points we use in our own usability testing that make the user experience clear. They are:
- Completion: can the user complete the task to begin with?
- Duration: how long does it take to complete the task?
- Usability: how difficult was it to complete the task?
When considering task completion from my Hootsuite experience, the fact is I wasn’t able to complete the task on my own. I had to have someone else do it in order to get the connection restored. Even with customer support giving me articles and steps to follow, nothing was working. So in that department, Hootsuite fails. Zero points in the completion department.
Looking at task duration, it took about an hour between myself and my boss to figure the situation out and find a solution that worked. The task itself was quite simple. The Instagram and Facebook accounts had been previously connected under the same login. The connection just needed to be restored. That should have been a short series of simple clicks that ended in the connection working. Alas, that was not what happened. Because Hootsuite had no way to work around the fact that my personal Facebook had been used to connect to a business page before (and on another Hootsuite account), it took much longer than necessary to get things going. So score-wise? Hootsuite gets another zero, unfortunately.
On the task usability side, nothing about the experience was seamless. There was too much shuffling between platforms and unintuitive flow through the tasks, even though the steps were presented in a simple manner. The fact that things couldn’t just be handled completely through Hootsuite really knocks them down on the scale in this arena. I give them 2/10 because the tasks themselves weren’t too complicated.
Breakdown of Hootsuite’s bad UX
Overall, Hootsuite gets a 2/30 for their usability, based on this experience. How does a company that is so well-known and well-established miss this badly in the user experience department? Let’s get into it!
The integration between Meta Business (facebook & Instagram) was ultimately the main pain point in this situation. Because there was no way to override the previous connection between my Facebook page and other Hootsuite accounts, I found myself stuck and unable to complete the task I set out to. There should be a way to confirm the page you want to connect with and/or disconnect the page you’ve been previously using through Hootsuite. And you certainly should not have to exit the platform to navigate to Facebook or Instagram and confirm permissions or things like that. Whatever errors may pop up through Hootsuite should be able to be resolved without leaving.
This is a matter of integrations, APIs, and the like–something they would need to work with Meta on. However, there are some in-house issues they can sort out, in the meantime.
Lack of simplified troubleshooting steps
One of the biggest issues that I had with this experience (and have had with other platforms) is the lack of ease with which I could troubleshoot and resolve the issue on my own. Because there was no self-guidance or tips associated with the errors that popped up when I attempted to connect Facebook and Instagram, I had to seek out support pretty early on in the process. Only then, did I get access to articles with potential fixes. However, even those articles failed to provide me with the answers I needed
Difficult navigation through tasks
The clickthrough navigation started off intuitive. However, once things became complicated, it was no longer simple to get through the tasks I needed to complete. Part of this is related to the integration issue with Meta. As well, Hootsuite has its own navigational concerns that make things more complicated. Even finding support was more challenging than it should have been.
Other UX pain points
Outside of this one experience, I have several points of contention with Hootsuite’s platform and its integration with social media apps. Here are some other examples that contribute to Hootsuite’s overall bad UX.
Thread options via Twitter
Twitter has had a threading function for a long time now. I remember when it was rolled out. Hand-in-hand with Hootsuite’s general integration problem, the lack of ability to create Twitter threads is a point of frustration. I have to either create a series of separate tweets that might not even be sent in order, or I have to compress my thoughts into the 280 character space. Usually, I just end up tweeting threads directly to Twitter, which defeats the purpose of paying for a social media management tool to begin with.
Another integration pain point is the carousel function on Instagram. Every other social media site allows you to post multiple images in one post through Hootsuite, no problem. However, with Instagram, you have to jump through multiple hoops, complete a series of extra steps, including navigating through the Hootsuite app to copy and paste the caption and download the pictures all before being sent to the Instagram app to complete the post. After all that, I might as well just post directly to Instagram whenever I have multiple images. Again, what’s the point of having a social media management tool if you’re having to go through individual social media apps to share the exact post you want to?
Instagram video length
Yet another integration issue between Hootsuite and Instagram! The Reels and IGTV video options aren’t available, so if your video is over one minute, you can’t post it through Hootsuite. And even if your video is under the time limit, if you intend for it to be posted as a Reel, it will not properly post that way through Hootsuite. So once again, you are forced to upload those videos through the Instagram app directly, defeating the purpose of paying for a social media management tool.
Picture cropping function
Hootsuite has managed to create one of the clunkiest picture editing functions I’ve ever seen. Obviously, because Instagram has a set aspect ratio, Hootsuite will prompt you to resize the photo once you upload it to the post, which isn’t generally a problem. The issue is the fact that you cannot free crop or adjust the image to highlight the specific area you want to focus on. You can only select the size/aspect ratio you want to change to. This leads to some awkward cropping.
Layout of analytics
The analytics layout on Hootsuite is…weird. There’s no real flow or intuition behind the way it’s laid out, and there are very few options to edit it. Frankly, outside of adding or removing accounts and adjusting the date, you really can’t change the layout. The flow from top to bottom is difficult to follow, and the social accounts and their metrics aren’t grouped in a way that most marketers conducting analysis would find helpful. This is another task that I often go to the original social media platforms to complete.
Cluttered and sticky Streams layout
While you get to choose what streams are included on your Streams page and how they are arranged, it somehow is still a miss in the UX department. Scrolling sideways between streams and scrolling down on each individual stream can be messy. There have been many times where I’m trying to scroll sideways to see other streams and end up scrolling down. As well, the sizing of each stream can be challenging, with only a couple of resizing options available. I just feel that there is probably a better design for this tab that would make things easier to follow.
Read More: Importance of UX in Website Usability
Steps to correct bad UX
Now that we’ve laid out exactly what Hootsuite’s UX issues are, it’s time to talk about how to fix them. Here are some steps that Hootsuite (and you) should follow to correct user experience issues.
Hire a UX designer
A lot of companies hire a general designer or developer to build up their site, platform, or app, and that person is expected to do it all–design, code, consider UX & UI, etc. In reality, it’s extremely beneficial to have someone dedicated to UX on the team. This should be their main focus, so they can run tests on the usability of the platform and factor that into design plans and adjustments.
While it’s understandable that smaller companies with less revenue might lean on one person to do it all, a company like Hootsuite has the resources to invest in this, and they should!
Run usability tests
We cannot stress this enough–usability testing is a worthy investment! Bad UX will cost you customers every time. If you invest in usability testing, you are able to get real data around your user experience that can be utilized to improve your design and user interface. The ROI is incredibly high, as you will be able to get direct feedback on what real users think about your platform.
Use UX research to improve the user experience and interface
Once you have the data and the personnel to support the user experience side of your product, it’s important to make improvements informed by the information gleaned from the usability tests. Generate wireframes. Build out prototypes. Run more tests. Rinse. Repeat until you get it right. That’s how you guarantee that you don’t lose customers from a bad user experience. The more time and effort you dedicate to the UX of your product, the higher likelihood of growing your customer base exponentially.
Read More: What Is User Experience and UX Research?
Having a brand that is well-known, recognized, and has longevity behind it doesn’t mean that you get to ignore UX. Every day there are new competitors entering the market, and you want to make sure that your product keeps up. Otherwise, you risk losing existing customers as well as potential new customers to a better product with better UX. Don’t let bad UX be the factor that loses you money!
As for Hootsuite, I recommend that they update their integrations, run some usability tests, and update their interface ASAP. The current platform leaves so much to be desired in a social media management tool.