[LINK] Worst interface I have seen for a while - the winner is Centrelink

Anthony Hornby anthony.w.hornby at gmail.com
Thu Nov 27 13:42:05 AEDT 2008

Hi All,
this amazed me.

I had to go into Centrelink to sort out an appropriate level of access
to their online website for childcare payments etc (don't go there -
the online site is also terrible....).

To do this I had to provide a range of proof of ID documents - no problem.

I provided the documents and then watched in amazement as the poor
Centrelink staff member tried to get the details of them accepted by
the system.

If I was designing an interface for this I would do something like
have a number of ID type selections and then as one was selected a
little mini-workflow specific for that type with context aware help
and simple and obvious progress indicators. At the end it would
confirm the details and then allow another entry or moving on to the
next section (little transactions for each). Something like this would
be required where each type of ID has differing information need to be
recorded for it .... or so you would think....

What is actually provided is a form with a table that lists in columns
across the top all the information required for all possible types of
ID documents.In rows down you add in the document type and details.

When you select a document type to start entering information it
doesn't grey out or otherwise signal to the operator what fields in
the columns provided are not appropriate for that document type - you
can quite happily make completely incorrect selections.

You have to add in all document types with no validation (as mentioned
above) and then submit all items in one go (you don't complete a
transaction for each).
It then reports a list of unhelpful errors for you like "State is not
appropriate for this document type".

Why unhelpful I hear you ask .... because it doesn't tell you which
line in the table had what error or otherwise identify which document
has what error !!

I had about 6 items of ID. I literally had to sit with the operator
and by a process of careful elimination and educated guesswork try
various combinations until we could submit the form successfully !!

If I put something like that in front of my staff or clients at my
university I'd be lynched.

I suggested to the staff member there that she reports it to everyone
that will listen and in the interim create some sort of chart of
allowable fields for the various document types and colour code it and
laminate it and stick it near the monitor.

Truly appalling design.

Uggggggg ....


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