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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Get Lost!

Yesterday I had to make a call to a government agency about a strange letter I received.  The phone system was HELL.  First select English, then listen to 6 options (didn't hear one that really applied so had to listen twice) take a guess at a selection that *might* be correct, listen to 4 more options - none of these seemed correct.  Tried selectin 0 which in most cases will get an operator, no such luck.  Made a random guess - it ended up telling me about a new policy and wished me a good day (in other words said good-bye and hung up).

Round 2: Select English, listen to 6 options - try a different choice. Listen to 5 more options - choose something that is irrelevant but sounds like it has an outside chance of reaching a person...

Have you been there, done that?  Layers and layers of choices and yet they don't get what you wanted. Layers. They are everywhere!

Unfortunately many websites are the same way - nothing but layers.  Why would you put a potential customer (yes even non-profit and government agencies have "customers" they serve) through the hell of trying to sort through all those layers! Worse yet, about half of these websites don't even use breadcrumbs to help you know where you in the website.

Here's one example - to get to the explanation of changes based on the new Obamacare you'll go through at least 5 screens of  "it's coming" content.  That's the number of clicks before it starts to give you the info from the link on the front page. Then they want 8 more minutes of your time.

Government and insurance websites are among the worse offenders although you can also find this problem in shopping websites, large corporations and more.

The point is - people just want to go to the website, get the info (or order the product) and get out. They don't want to get lost and will often leave before finding what they came for when they are lost.

The use of personas and "people like me" identifiers are key to a good user experience.  By giving "quick links" and "short cuts" to the information people are most likely to want you'll be doing us all a favor.

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