As mentioned in my Why is my underwear in the microwave? blog, many applications are not logically designed. When an application includes a Help Tab, and/or an FAQ list and/or a User Forum, this is a red flag. This tells me the application owners know their customers, we users, are going to have problems with their site.
They’ll never admit that their application is illogically designed, making we the users feel computer ignorant. But I know better. Most people I’ve talked to over the years are above average in intelligence. I’ve told these people the fault’s not on their end; it’s on the designers who created a clunky, complicated application.
Why are so many applications designed like an albatross? There are three main reasons:
1.) Unqualified technicians designed the application.
2.) The application’s owners want their application installed as soon as possible. Because of this rush, the designers take shortcuts to meet the unrealistic installment date.
3.) Both of the above.
The application people, meaning the owners and technicians, know their customers will have questions about how to carry out each of their application’s many functions. They become cost burdened with the following three methods as to how on their end they will answer the many customer questions that will inevitably come up.
Application owners who give us confusing applications:
• Hire customer relations people who get paid less per hour in comparison to the technicians. My chief complaint is that most customer relations people do not know anything about good application design. Those in customer service only know how to work the application regardless of its unorthodox design.
• Do not hire anyone and resort to using a computer function that involves customers pressing fixed given questions in a cascading downward fashion an FAQ list dictated answers the customers are “forced” to read (and don’t answer the real question the user would like to ask). We have telephone systems that do this same thing!
They never answer the question I would like to ask, which is: “Why did you design such a complicated application which is like reading Chinese upside down?” I don’t say this to be controversial. I can be specific about where the problem is and what design improvements should be made to make it more “user-friendly.”
• Include a User Forum as another portal within their application, which is the cheapest customer service solution compared to the two above. When customer users volunteer their help to aid other users they are enabling the owners. If no one would volunteer their help, then the owners would be forced to choose one of the other two methods mentioned (which aren’t that great).
One method owners will certainly not use is to have their technicians take the service calls. The owners’ mindset is that their technicians are highly paid and they are not to be taking phone calls. And yet this would be the best choice of all. If enough customers called on the same problem, shouldn’t this tell the technicians they have a flaw and should immediately resolve it?
The Bottom line:
Application owners should first hire qualified technicians. Secondly, allow them the time to design logically correct their applications. And lastly let their technicians take user calls for at least three-months after their application is in production. After this, then hire the lesser paid customer relations people.
Yes, there will always be a few customers, no matter what, who won’t know how to work any application regardless how well it’s designed. Unfortunately this is the nature of the beast.