Where am I?
It is common practice on the web to let your user know where he is right now. We highlight the right portion of the navigation bar, provide proper headers, a site map when needed. All this for any simple website. Why is it not common practice in our real world?
I recently had the (un)pleasant experience of taking my 4 year old to have his tonsils removed. It was a small hospital. Only 4 floors. But I didn’t know how many floors it had (do the underground floors count? are they for public use?) , or which facilities were to be found on each floor. Which entrance to use (there were two main visible ones), which elevators to take? Are there more than just the two? The jargon was misleading, “B” referred both to a floor and a unit. How do I proceed from station to station? which inner doors are for the public and which are for the staff?
A small small hospital. We were there for one day. Yet my mother got lost and my husband couldn’t find us once me moved to the next station inside. Seriously, all you need is to highlight each location in relation to the rest of the place (“you are here”), avoid jargon and provide proper headers and a site map.
One day. One nerve wrecking day. Is it really necessary to add to the tension by constantly surprising us with the time-frame and contents of the next step? Why must the mystery of “what’s next?” be kept? Is the hospital staff afraid I will challenge them and offer a new order for the procedure? (well, they kind of have a point there – but that’s just me).
Please please please, rest assure, we feel helpless enough in such situations. We understand you do not have the time to
hold our hands and whisper reassuring words in our ears. Take an example from any basic wizard. You know, like when you purchase something online. You see how many steps there are, what is the purpose of each step and if relevant, how much time will it take to complete it. Imagine a similar leaflet listing the medical procedures’ steps you will be taking that day:
1. Administrative check-in, entrance floor, 20 min. Includes: Check-in, receive ID tags and medical file.
2. Medical check-in, 2nd floor, 1 .5 hours. Includes: basic medical exam and waiting for the operation.
3. The recovery room, 2nd floor, 30 min. Includes: getting ready for the opp. & wearing funny hospital clothes.
Just because the hospital staff go through it a hundred times a day, doesn’t mean they should forget about their primary, extremely anxious, users. An informed user is a relaxed user, and that is priceless! Why stop at hospitals? Such an approach is sure to increase positive user experience and customer satisfaction, not to mention the time and effort that will be spared when the service providers spend less time calming users down.
My son is fine by the way, devouring ice creams whenever he can.