Monday, May 14, 2007

Election fiasco shows importance of usability tests

Even paper ballots have their usability problems ...

"The cost of failing to usability test designs before deployment has unfortunately been shown again in Scotland's controversial election results.

We see it all the time in usability testing of websites - the fact that users don't read instructions on forms. Instead, they tend to to start filling it in straight away, particularly when the form starts with easy questions about their name etc. The same thing happens on offline paper forms; a subconscious voice says 'I'll read the instructions if I need them' and potentially useful information is missed.

But you would think that users would take a bit more care when filling out a voting form, wouldn't you? Apparently that is not the case, hence the controversy over last week's important local elections in Scotland, where 1 in 20 votes have had to be thrown out in Britain's worst ever voting debacle.

The reason for the mistake? As shown in this example on the BBC site, voters had to put two crosses on their Holyrood voting papers - one for their constituency and one for the regional list - but it appears many wrongly put two crosses in one section. Simultaneously staging the council elections, in which voters had to rank candidates, also caused confusion."    (Continued via E-consultancy)    [Usability Resources]

Scotland Ballot - Usability, User Interface Design

Scotland Ballot

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