Monday, August 22, 2011

Week 6 Reading

I found this week's reading to be really interesting, and I have to admit, I have never really thought about web accessibility for people with disabilities. Now that I am thinking about it, it seems so obvious, of course people who are blind or have other disabilities would want to use the internet too, but I had never really thought about what we need to do as designers to make that experience more user friendly to those individuals. Also, I liked what the author said about making the web usable for not just people with disabilities, but also those who are not as web savvy as we are and may find something that we see as obvious to be very confusing. It makes sense to have a website design to have the ability to reach as many people as possible with its information, because the easier it is for one person to use it, the more people will ultimately become frequent users of the site.
Even for someone who is computer savvy, there are still sites out there that are confusing and makes the user unsure of what to do next. An example of this is when I went online to pay my garbage bill last week, using my local garbage company's brand new online bill pay for the first time. I chose to pay online to avoid the twenty minute drive to the office, or the usual ten or fifteen minutes I have to wait on hold on the phone until someone can take my call. When I got to the part where I actually pay my bill, I ran into a problem. I had my current bill and my due bill overlapping, making the payment double what I was due to pay this month. I selected to pay, and instead of taking me to a screen to ask how much I wanted to pay or letting me select an option, a pop up came up that only said "pay my bill" and a confirm button and a cancel button. I was unsure at this point what to do. Will pushing "confirm" bring me to the section I was looking for where I could select the amount I wanted to pay, or would it charge the amount for both months on the checking account I had already entered? I didn't want to pay double, and I didn't like the risk, so I ended up canceling and calling to pay my bill, which resulted in me waiting the usual 10 minutes and wasting all the time I had spent setting up my account online.
This really taught me a lesson about web usability and the necessity of thinking every step through and making it obvious to your customer about what actions they should take next, and that no matter how web savvy someone may be, if something is confusing, they will be just as lost as everyone else.

This week, I found some sites that had good usability that I think would work for everyone (or at least most!).

Verizon Wireless
I like this website because, as one of their customers, I have always found that they have the best and easiest online bill pay that I have ever used. I have never had a problem navigating through this site, and the fact that my Grandma pays her phone bill online through Verizon shows a lot about this site's usability.

Besides being one of my favorite sites to "window shop", Etsy has a great and simple usability that I think would allow anyone to use and purchase items with little issue. When completing a check out process, Etsy shows you up front before you enter any information, to see the price of an item including it's shipping (unlike a lot of other sites) and that way there are no surprises once it is too late to go back without canceling your entire order.

Ok, so it definitely isn't the most beautiful site on the internet, but Craigslist has proven through all of its users that it is a site that is simple and easy to navigate. It is easy to find things and inquire about them through the seller, and it is simple to sell things as well.

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