Bad user experience at the LA Times

A friend of mine pointed me to what looked like an interesting article on The LA Times. I tried to go to the article, but instead was greeted with a free registration page. Now I’m no hippie and I have no problem with registration pages as I understand how important a registered user base is to a publisher. So even though I find them irritating, I put that aside and sign up.

But this was different, because the LA Times site wouldn’t let me sign up. When I tried to register it seem to not accept a local postal/zip code, wanting probably only a US zip code. So maybe they have a strange strategy whereby they only accept US users, contrary to strategies of about every other major online publications and unlike their esteemed rivals NY Times and But if that’s their strategy then fair enough they must have their reasons (as strange as they may be).

But I look on, and nowhere is there an explanation or another option for non US users. Nothing in their FAQ about non-US users. So basically I’m left to deduce that if you don’t have a US postal code, you don’t get access. Which leads me to think… could this just simply be a mistake on their behalf? Bad useability and bad planning? Could a site as big as the LA Times make a mistake as silly as this? Disappointing.

UPDATE: I decided to sign up and enter a US zip code, provided to me by a friend. The bad user experience continued. Take a look at this, a 9-page sign up process, to get to the article:

Page1: trying to access article, get sign up page interjection
Page2: i am not a signed member, so go to registration page (enter registration details)
Page3: intermediary page: would you like to subscribe to these special offers? (no thanks)
Page4: now please go to your email to activate your account (I go to email)
Page5: ok, your account is activated, now would you like to sign up to these newsletters? (no thanks)
Page6: ok, now would you like to sign in (you mean I haven’t been automatically signed in?)
Page7: enter your login details to sign in (I enter login details)
Page8: you are logged in, here are your member services (did you forgot which story I wanted?)
Page9: I then go back to email and click on story link to get story
Page10: The story! Hallelujah!

Comments (5)

  1. Rodrigo wrote::

    Matthew, for future requests for US zip codes bare in mind that the only memorable thing about the TV show Beverly Hills 90210 is that it provides all us non-US residents with a 90210 zip code.

    Monday, June 25, 2007 at 4:04 pm #
  2. matt wrote::

    Rodrigo… ah yes….! of course 🙂

    Monday, June 25, 2007 at 4:20 pm #
  3. Debre Barrett wrote::

    Matt. Was the story worth all that pain?

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at 12:16 pm #
  4. matt wrote::

    not really for the one story, but I guess now that I’m signed up it will be easier going forward. Some users however are not as persistent as me…

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at 7:25 pm #
  5. Other Matt wrote::

    Hullo Matt – I’m not prepared to share my info, so I get around sites like that with help from – it collects and shares anonymous usernames+passwords for free registration sites.

    Tuesday, August 7, 2007 at 9:11 am #