Lately I’ve been bothered by inefficient user interfaces (perhaps it’s just a theme lately given my “dysfunction function” post previously). My job is web-based and I understand – to a degree – that some things are hard to change and takes some time to program. But format and text are perhaps some of the easiest things we can offer to the user.
My first example in this series of posts will be business e-letters. Letters that have important information, but don’t easily convey to the user exactly what s/he wants to know are inefficient and confusing. An electronic billing statement is a great example for variability in bad and good design.
A bad e-letter is like having a bad website. You make an impression and people can automatically know why your letter is an important letter. People don’t want to open an email and be bogged down by text and have to sift through what it is you’re trying to tell them. See example:
A long letter that tells a user s/he has a bill due and doesn’t use stylized text or take advantage of breaking down information for easier digestion that must be on there (security text, standard e-enrollment information, etc.) does the user a disservice.
Better practice? How about giving the most important information upfront and basic styling techniques (bold, anyone?) to highlight within that text?
What’s also important to note is that people receive tons of email every day, and we’d like to believe that just because we’re a familiar name or business that people will pay attention. But the truth is to be familiar is only half the battle. The other half is to be important and recognizable when it’s most imperative to the person sending the email and the person receiving the email.
Up next? Failed print-to-web collateral.