4 April 2008

An adventure in usability

Last Friday Zora and I went to the Secretary of State office in Elgin. (I’d been lax in renewing our motor vehicle registration.) When we arrived, we were greeted with two doors to adjacent rooms and a very long line that didn’t lead to either room.

The rooms were poorly identified, but it was clear that the room for driver’s licenses wouldn’t be the right choice. The next room was for titles & registrations. I went in, took a number, and we waited our turn. Zora charmed the heck out of everyone waiting.

While we were waiting, one of the workers kept exasperatedly reminding people that if they were there for titles, they needed to fill out the forms by the wall. There was no other mechanism for informing people about this necessity, and the location for the forms was poorly identified.

When our turn came, I went to the open desk, helped Zora into a chair, and took out my (already completed) paperwork. The man helping me informed me that the long line outside was for sticker renewals—but since I’d already waited, he would process the renewal for me. Thank goodness for cute babies & helpful people!

So, a few words of advice when visiting a facility headed by Jesse White: Don’t trust signs (if there are any) and be sure to ask for help. It’s a good idea to be understanding toward the employees—they deal with the space far more frequently than we do and probably have developed habits to work around usability issues. Most important, though, is to bring a cute toddler with you. Erica & I may even consider renting out Zora for the trip. (But probably not!)

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