Every now and then one comes across some item that has a serious design flaw. Depending on where it comes from the unavoidable question pops: was this made faulty by design or is it just a horrible mistake that bypassed all controls and lingers making the user's life miserable?
A recurring experience with my home banking system got me thinking about this. Since my area of expertise is web it seems natural that I criticize a major bank's web interface.
On this particular case the issue is with Credit Cards. The amount I have to pay appears on my homepage for all my credit cards. That much is good. With a single glimpse I can see all my different account's balances and click on a link to pay anything. That's where the problem begins.
Once I make a payment to the credit card the balance isn't updated until the next month's balance is out. So if I owe $30 to my credit card and make a $30 payment, I will still see I owe 30 bucks. I can't count how many times I've paid my credit card twice on the same month.
Banks aren't particularly known for their honesty and transparency, thus I always feel suspicious about this design "flaw". Was this UI built this way to get users like myself to get confused and pay more? I honestly think it was meant to be that way. Of course I can go and look at the previous events of my bank account and check wether I had paid the credit card for that month or not, but such information should be presented clearly and be handy to the client.
I wonder how many UIs (and objects in general) are designed with some flaws in them in order to get some sort of side advantage (no, don't mention you-know-which OS, that is just faulty, not by design, but rather by lack of vision and corporate in-breeding).
The same knowledge that can help building an intuitive and easy-to-use experience can be turned around into deceiving and taking advantage from the user. We got used to that with pop-ups, porn links active-x installs and all sorts of malware that populate the web. But expecting that from a "serious" corporation such as a bank (serious, yeah, right) is merely lame.