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Stupid Usability #113

Construction Notification Destruction

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 8/24/2015

From the mind of Virgil Carroll, Principal Human Solution Architect at High Monkey:

As a member of the human race, especially one that lives in a place with roads, I live through two seasons a year.  First season (and definitely more extreme in Minnesota) we call winter.  The second is a time of orange cones, detours and delays…we call this construction season.  After living through almost 20 years of construction season in Minnesota, one learns that having advanced knowledge of the various delays and detours can make a person live a least a little bit less frustrated life.  So a couple of years ago, to assist with this, I decided to see what information was out there that could keep me informed on what was coming up and where to avoid.

The county I live in of Anoka has provided a wealth of information in the form of a weekly email that I subscribed to about 4 years ago.  This email provided a brief summary of all road construction projects throughout the county completed, in progress and coming up.  If there is going to be a delay in your area, you can keep up-to-date on what is going on and plan accordingly.

About a year and a half ago, Anoka County went through a web re-design process (in the vain of full disclosure, High Monkey was not the successful bidder on that project…but this post is from Virgil the resident not the owner of High Monkey and has nothing to do with the website itself).  Once the new site launched, many things changed from what they once were.
Where I cannot say what general feedback of the website it (I think overall it was a great improvement), I can tell you that a particular corner was cut that brings me to my stupid usability post.  Where I used to get this great email with all the information I needed to keep me informed around road construction, now I receive the below email on a weekly basis.

Now, instead of getting all the information sent to me so I can conveniently read, I get an email that basically says ‘click here’ to visit a webpage to read these updates.  Where the page is very nice (as seen in the below image), the point of this post is the waste of this additional step in the process.  Part of the goal may be to try and drive more traffic to the county website; for people to view other services and activities outside of this information, but the county failed to understand the point.  Providing an email that just says ‘click here’ defeats the purpose of the email communication itself.  Instead the county should have provided more abbreviated details around the construction projects with additional links to view more detailed information.

Where you might not feel this is a really big usability issue, I can tell you that just myself, with my busy schedule, has only clicked on the link once or twice in the last year since it has been this way.  I bet if the county did a good study, they would find that traffic has decreased since initial deployment.  Email notifications are for people that want the convenience of things being sent to them, not so they can be informed to go check somewhere else for the information.

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 8/24/2015 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments