Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Making Things Easy

Over the last 16 weeks I have done a lot of running, and I have finally run my marathon! Due to where I live most of this running has been on tiny back roads with hardly any traffic and lots of trees. It is the trees I am writing about today and two very different experiences.

So I will start with a great experience. On one section of very busy road I ran along the pavement. However not many people walk or run here and the path is very overgrown with brambles and trees. Being an uphill stretch towards the end of my runs I was worried I would trip and fall as I dodged round all the obstacles in my way.

So what to do? Tempting as it was to come along with some loppers and deal with it myself, it was much better to visit the Hampshire County Council website and tell them about the problem.

They actually have a nice process, although it could do with a few tweaks, where I can tell them about a problem via the web site.

Using an online map I can find the road with the issue then write a note about it with more details. And it must work as within a week some of the trees had been cut back making my run much more comfortable.

However a few weeks later I came across a tree that had fallen over on a different road. It was high up on a bank and although it was not blocking the road this was because it was leaning on some cables above the road.

It did not look very safe to me, but I did not think they were power cables - probably telephone cables so I looked on the OpenReach site. All I could find there was a phone number and having heard of other people's experience of ringing them I did not really want to do this - remember this was a tree miles from my house and having just got back from a long run I was feeling tired.

If they had made it easy and free like Hampshire County Council then I might have, but with just a phone number I decided it was not my problem. Does that tell you something about me?

Maybe, but I think it is human nature - if we make things easy for people they are more likely to do it, but if there are too many barriers, and these could be the smallest issues like the load speed of a webpage or not being given their preferred way to contact you, then we give people an excuse not to bother.

With people so busy and bombarded with information it does not take much for people to forget or stop and although some deliberate friction can be good in certain places, it is much better to make an experience which flows and helps people finish the thing they are trying to do.

I wonder if that tree is still there?

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