10 October 2009

Trying to sell a bad interface

In our local newspaper the other day I saw an advertisement for a new website created to support the NSW Central Coast’s waste collection and recycling system. (Click the image to see it.) The main thrust of the ad was that the “fastest way to book your bulk kerbside collection is online”. And to show how “fast” it is, the ad listed an eight-step “Bulk Kerbside Checklist”:
  1. Visit www.1coast.com.au - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  2. Select the ‘Click here to book a bulk kerbside collection button’
  3. Review the collection guidelines & proceed to the booking page
  4. First time visitors will be asked to register their email address to receive a password to access the booking page
  5. Login using your email address and password
  6. Search for your property and follow the on-screen prompts
  7. A confirmation email will mean your booking was successful, and provide you a booking reference number.
But here’s the killer, eighth step:
  1. Alternatively, you can call our Customer Service Centre on 13001COAST for help
Surely, seeing all the steps required to complete one transaction (namely booking a junk pick-up for your home, online) spelt out like that would make the website owners realise that the process is far too complicated.

08 October 2009

I don't know much about the web but I know what I like

The Web is a bit like an art museum: an amazingly rich resource which is too easily squandered. I have just posted an article on my website (originally presented as a paper at the Ark Group Information Architecture Forum, and at Oz-IA 2009), which introduces principles and techniques used in art museum education and shows how they can be applied in web construction, writing and design. It offers insights into:
  • transforming information chaos into information order
  • eliminating inessentials
  • making personal connections with visitors (or users) through relevance and participation, while minimising cognitive load
  • structuring content in terms of what visitors want to know and do, rather than “internal, organisational imperatives”
  • the need for unity and consistency, to allow visitors to build up a mental model of the site
  • showing a human face, where appropriate.