On being helpful

Great screen experiences help without hindrance.

…they provide just enough information to let users complete the task in hand. And good navigation usually centres on the most popular questions and tasks that visitors may have.

… and great screen experiences are good business.

The end product is likely to appear disarmingly simple, and helpful.
That’s something of a headshift for most organisations, where status is conferred by the complexity of knowledge which a staffer holds. That knowledge may be shared out one soupcon at a time, in response to precisely the right question, and to no other.

Take for example the dilemma faced by Leeds Castle. 
Operation Stack crosses Junction 8 on the M20, which is the exit junction for the castle. Access to the castle, without using the M20, is unimpaired. Castle staff know this: visitors in all likelihood don’t.

The consequence of this is staggering: in summer 2015, by the end of July, visitor numbers are down 30%, taking with it 25% of the attraction’s annual surplus.

Could a better screen experience help?

The Getting to Leeds Castle page says: “If Operation Stack is in operation, access to Leeds Castle is unrestricted via Junction 8. See Highways England website for further information.”

That Highways England website heading for the M20 is:
M20 | Kent | Coastbound | Operation Stack | Road Closed
Let’s face it, that’s not going to encourage you to travel, is it?

Wouldn’t it be better to help visitors find their way to the Castle?
- put guidance towards the top of the Home page: not a link to the guidance: give visitors the actual guidance
- make it clear that you don’t need to use the M20 to visit Leeds Castle
- link to or embed route maps, showing live traffic: data analysis would show which 3 or 4 points of origin should feature.
- & include the M20 route, for comparison
- make the whole into an Operation Stack panel, that can be turned on when needed. And turn it off when it’s not needed!
- now test to find out what works best: your measure of success is money taken on the gate.