It's a free country, you can't FORCE me to read!



  • A post on Raymond Chen's blog today reminded me of just how blind and stupid a significant portion of people out there really are.

    Until some time ago where I work, I've been sharing a homebuilt helpdesk app between myself (IT) and site facilities. Simple and efficient - user goes to the site, enters the details of their problem, and who to log it to. For reasons outside of the scope here, I've had to switch to using the coroprate helpdesk system instead, but my system lives on to support site facilities.

    So, the usual email go out to notify people, but we all know people never read those. I rename the app from "helpdesk" to "site facilities helpdesk", and add an "IT helpdesk" link next to it. I also modify the simple 6 field form the user fills out, to have a VERY BIG RED BOX at the top, the size of the entire rest of the form, with a giant blinking white and yellow bold warning at the top with new contact details. It's a simple and concise message, not much more than "from now on, IT faults must instead be logged via corp. helpdesk  - call extn. XXXX or email helpmeeee@domain.com to do so. This app is now only for site facilites use.". I even link the email address.

    "Ah", I think,  "but especially stupid users will ignore the warning even if it is big, red, with flashing white and yellow words. I'll have to do something else too." So... when the stupid users still go to log an issue to IT, I leave the "log fault to IT" option there, but instead of submitting the form, it will summon up a pop-up, giving in 20 words or less, the same information displayed in the big red box. So, between email notices, explicit renaming, big flashing warning sign in the application itself, and the error when people ignore the first three, surely I'll have 95% of users covered. Have my efforts been enough to even hope for 99%?

    Over 70% of IT requests still went through the old system, instead logged to site facilities, for weeks to come. Still to this day, a few still come through that way. Of course, it's not all bad news. Many users helpfully pointed out how the system was broken, and kept coming up with an error message when they tried to log an IT issue..... 



  • Nice. Reminds me of my brief fling working at a gas bar. Shortly after I arrived the two pumps furthest from the kiosk became mandatory "pay before you pump". Each of the two affected pumps had six signs dedicated to informing users that those pumps fell under special rules. First sign: BIG RED LETTERS on a sign two thirds the size of the pump, a reflector lit (which the reflectors were useless unfortunately) sign "Pay at the pump only" sign on the pump above the nozzle, a sign on the nozzle, a sign about a sixth of a pump on top of the pump, a hand written sign (using Sharpy) near the output LEDs, and another hand written sign on the remaining non-signed surface of the pump. Fast forward a few months and we still have people who attempt to use the pumps normally. sigh. Further more most of these people actually noticed the white call button which is the same size as your doorbell on white post.



  • Sounds to me like two textbook examples of Banner Blindness or Somebody Else's Problem syndrome.. People already have a fixed schema when they address your application and it needs more than just a few colours to make them break out of it and actually ready any text on your page/pump.

    Just for fun, on the report form, swap two text fields along with their labels and watch how many people will still enter data their old way. 



  • @RayS said:

    Many users helpfully pointed out how the system was broken, and kept coming up with an error message when they tried to log an IT issue..... 

    My experience is that when confronted with a pop-up dialog in Windows, most users just look at the fact that it's a pop-up, interpret this as "Error", and start hitting every button they can see in a blind panic until it goes away. Depressingly few of them ever read what it says.

    People are stupid. Seriously.
     



  • Here's another possible reason:   when they submit IT problems to site facilities, do the facility people then forward them on to you?  And then you respond?   I would bet that your users have figured out that you still respond to the logs (albeit more slowly) so the big scary "error messages" don't really mean anything.  Try asking the site facilty people to just round-file all the IT logs that come to them and see what happens.



  • @RayS said:

    I leave the "log fault to IT" option there,

    Why? Seems like a WTF to me. At least disable it.
     



  • @dande said:

    @RayS said:

    I leave the "log fault to IT" option there,

    Why? Seems like a WTF to me. At least disable it.

    I leave the "log fault to IT" option there, but instead of submitting the form, it will summon up a pop-up

    Talking about not being able to read... 



  • @PSWorx said:

    @dande said:
    @RayS said:

    I leave the "log fault to IT" option there,

    Why? Seems like a WTF to me. At least disable it.

    I leave the "log fault to IT" option there, but instead of submitting the form, it will summon up a pop-up

    Talking about not being able to read... 

    But it is still selectable. Why? 



  • @dande said:

    But it is still selectable. Why? 

    Let's be honest here, the kind of people who made it past all of the obstacles in their race to do the stupid thing will just ignore missing options and select something else at random. The fact that they choose the other option even AFTER the message pops up kind of gives the game away that they'd have just blindly chosen it if the IT option was missing anyway.

    Leaving it there with an error message when they try to use it is just giving them an extra lifeline. If there really is a WTF in my choice there, surely it is my naive assumption that anyone so determined to miss the obvious might still see sense.



  • @jetcitywoman said:

    Here's another possible reason:   when they submit IT problems to site facilities, do the facility people then forward them on to you?  And then you respond?   I would bet that your users have figured out that you still respond to the logs (albeit more slowly) so the big scary "error messages" don't really mean anything.  Try asking the site facilty people to just round-file all the IT logs that come to them and see what happens.

    That's the option I went for after a short grace period of "I've sorted your problem, but I won't next time. LEARN TO READ, YOU MORON!" (obviously actually stated in less-likely-to-get-me-fired terms)



  • @RayS said:

    I also modify the simple 6 field form the user fills out, to have a VERY BIG RED BOX at the top, the size of the entire rest of the form, with a giant blinking white and yellow bold warning
    at the top with new contact details. It's a simple and concise message,
    not much more than "from now on, IT faults must instead be logged via
    corp. helpdesk  - call extn. XXXX or email helpmeeee@domain.com to do
    so. This app is now only for site facilites use.". I even link the
    email address.

    [...] 

    users will ignore the warning
    even if because it is big, red, with flashing white and yellow words.

    From the information you provide it looks like the corp helpdesk accepts issues by email. If that is indeed the case, you could have saved yourself and your users a lot of trouble. Simply let your app continue to accept form input for IT issues, by folding
    the six form values into an email and sending that to the corp helpdesk. That takes about as much time as making three blinking messages, a hyperlink and an error popup.

    @RayS said:

    Many users helpfully pointed out how the system was broken

    Given that the system failed on 70% of use cases, they might have a point there.



  • @RayS said:

    @dande said:

    But it is still selectable. Why? 

    Let's be honest here, the kind of people who made it past all of the obstacles in their race to do the stupid thing will just ignore missing options and select something else at random. The fact that they choose the other option even AFTER the message pops up kind of gives the game away that they'd have just blindly chosen it if the IT option was missing anyway.

    Leaving it there with an error message when they try to use it is just giving them an extra lifeline. If there really is a WTF in my choice there, surely it is my naive assumption that anyone so determined to miss the obvious might still see sense.

    It sort of resembles this: http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/Dont-Read.aspx

    By leaving it in there, you sort of show that you support it, but then you don't?
     



  • Why not when people select your 'life line' where you show a popup so users eyes will glaze over and go into click-OK-or-Yes-mode, show them a single html link with a "mailto:" uri in it.Using their already entered info to fill it in. (see http://www.ianr.unl.edu/internet/mailto.html for example. )

    This saves them time, and will actually avoid the "I know exactly what your trying to do, but i'm going to tell you instead of just work"  paradigm that we sometimes see in computer software. I mean, your IT, a chunk of your work is automating stuff so people can't do it wrong.  So just automate it already.

     



  • @asuffield said:

    My experience is that when confronted with a pop-up dialog in Windows, most users just look at the fact that it's a pop-up, interpret this as "Error", and start hitting every button they can see in a blind panic until it goes away. Depressingly few of them ever read what it says.

    People are stupid. Seriously.

    Yep i get this all the time, bug reports of "I got an error when i was doing such and such".  And then when you ask what it said "I don't know i just clicked ok"  The irritating thing is that most of the time the dialogue isn't actually an error but rather is actually informing the user of something they may want to know.  We had several helpful dialogues we actually had to remove from our application because we were sick of people ringing up about them.  Also we had one "Error" that informed the user that their version was out of date and that when the dialogue closes their browser will open with instructions for installing the update.  What a fucking nightmare that was, the sad thing was that most people just clicked ok and then got freaked out because their browser opened with installation instructions.  It is because of fucktards like that that spyware exists.


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