Today I was logging into two different online banking sites to check on the health (or otherwise) of my finances. Both sites have annoying login procedures – a necessary evil for security – but one of them has implemented it in a way that recognises human capabilities whereas the other one hasn’t – see if you can spot which is which:
Yes, you are right – example 2 is far, far easier: you use the stars (I can never spell asterisks) as a mental placeholder, rather than relying on mental counting or your fingers. It is therefore quicker, makes you feel less stupid, and you make fewer mistakes.
Someone has thought about (or watched) people struggling with mental imagery or finger counting, and implemented a little thing – a few stars – to bring about big improvements.
I say big improvements because its positive effect will be leveraged because something like a login is a gateway that must be negotiated by all customers (as in an online bank), or must be repeated often by the same person (as for an internal system or intranet). Thus the ROI of this small change would be likely to be larger than a more significant change in a less mission critical area.
So what do we learn from this?
Well nothing overly profound but this is a useful reminder to us all to:
- Don’t overlook the trivial or simple when looking to make improvements
- Think about human capabilities (or frailties) and implement solutions to enhance (or support) them
- Focus on ROI – small changes in gateways = big ROI
- Remove barriers like this if you can – do you really need that captcha?
- Think about (and if possible measure) the effects of changes in terms of effectiveness (e.g. success rates), efficiency (e.g. time to complete) and satisfaction (in this case it might be subjective ratings of confidence, or burden, or mental strain)
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