My mum is 74 this year. Last year I gave her an iPad Mini (I won it at work and already had one). It’s important to me that my parents become IT literate as I know how much freedom, independence and joy it could give them. Teaching people at this stage of their life who have never had a reason to learn to use a computer is difficult. As it is a comlplete unknown, they are not aware of how useful a tool it could be and therefore there is also very little drive to conquer the web. So when the tools that claim to help such situations are completely useless it’s pretty infuriating. I’m being serious, I was furious about this.
I spent an hour or so talking my mum through keywords on Google, banking online (instead of making a 2 mile trip to her local branch to take some money out to then move it into a savings account) and shopping for a dress. I took her onto the digital eagles site as I made the assumption that it would be easy to use. The aim here was to give her a fishing rod to continue learning on her own steam (I live in Leeds and she in Manchester so I can’t make as many lessons as I’d like with her).
What a pile of crap.
Clicking the first result for the keywords ‘digital eagles’ take you here:
It looks like quite a nice landing page.
Ooh look, it has a minimalistic header and a strong colourscheme. You know you’ve landed on a Barclay’s web page.
So tell me, where do you start?
You want to learn how to use the web. Tell me what to do. None of the content below the header is clickable. And there’s a dirty great big cookie disclaimer pushing the content below the fold further into the depths of for all my mother knows is non-exisitent nothingness. Believe it or not, it’s not a human instinct to scroll down. If only you could hear how hard I am hitting the keys on my computer. And I then find myself having a very difficult-to-explain conversation about cookies.
AND WHAT’S WITH THE CUT-OFF PICTURE OF A HAND TOUCHING A TABLET??? WHAT IS THE POINT? WHY DON’T YOU USE THAT SPACE TO TELL ME WHERE THE FROG I AM SUPPOSED TO CLICK TO GET THIS BLOODY TRAINING?? WHY DO WE NEED TRENDY PHOTOGRAPHS WHEN YOU CAN’T EVEN DESIGN A PAGE FOR THE VERY PURPOSE IT EXISTS?!!
So I’m quite mad at this point.
I scroll down and find this:
That’s nice but i’m a 74 year old woman WHERE SHOULD I GO? Is this bit of text underneath where I need to go?:
Right. There is a lot going on here. I *think* I should click ‘Find your Branch’ even though I’ve been led here to find the nearest Tea & Teach. Is it in the actual branch? How does that work? Oh well I’ll click it and I’m sure all will be revealed:
Err…there’s some tick boxes, radio buttons and a search box. What do I click? Is this a test? At this point I steer my mum to type in her postcode in the search box. She does (it takes a while to find the numbers bit of the keyboard, understandably, but she does it unaided). I’ve typed in my postcode, where do I click now? Oh that white call to action button on the left that it almost invisible? OF COURSE.
Right, so my nearest branch of Barclays in in Hyde. What now? I steer mum to click the blue text ‘Barclays Bank 38 Market Street’. Here we go, this is it, the final step, surely? We get details of the next meeting or some more info on what happens at Tea and Teach? No. We get opening hours of the branch. This is a branch finder page that is used by customers to find their nearest branch. It has absolutely nothing to do with Tea and flipping Teach.
My mum, of course, thinks her rubbish web skills are to blame for this confusing journey leading us nowhere. The poor woman’s confidence is shaken further.
I tell her it’s not her fault, the website is complete nonsense but she thinks I’m trying to make her feel better.
I am absolutely fuming about this. It really put into perspective how important user experience is. Poor UX can exclude those who rely on it the most. It can stop people from trying to enter the world of the web, a world which is pretty difficult to live outside of without being isolated.
This has really stuck in my mind and will be my motivation for every project I work on in future.