Delivering You To Your Destination

April 13, 2011

The DeliveryDemon despairs!! All she wants to do is renew a passport, using the Post Office Check and Send service. It can’t be done at the local post office, which means travelling elsewhere. So she clicked on ‘View Map’ on the branch finder page of the PO’s website.

Surprise, surprise, up came a map, along with some detailed directions. Not unsurprisingly, the DeliveryDemon already knows how to get from her village to the small town where the post office is sited. She also knows that the entire road system there is in total chaos due to widespread roadworks, so she wants to identify the post office location and a couple of likely parking options. For that she needs the map.

So what does the website deliver? An extract from the 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey which cannot be zoomed, except in one step to a scale which is too large to see the location in context. There’s no pan option at all, and no layers of useful information like parking. In other words, the site pays lip service to providing a map while giving no consideration to the various ways in which the map might be used in order to get useful directions.

If they can’t deliver something useful, why do they bother?

So Exactly Where Are You?

March 29, 2011

The DeliveryDemon is surprised how few hotels understand how people find them – physically, that is, not on the web. Many other public venues suffer from the same problem.

Let’s face it, once the customer finds details of a location on the web and makes the necessary bookings and payments, it’s still necessary to transport the physical body to the desired venue. It may be possible to delegate the responsibility to a taxi driver or even a chauffeur, but more often there’s a need to drive, or walk from the nearest public transport.

It’s fairly common to find directions on a website, though some directions suffer from the problem of only being meaningful to those who already know the area. Anyway, directions like that are yesterday’s solution. Today’s traveller uses satnav, to drive and, via a smartphone, to get walking directions. And what’s the shortest piece of information these devices need to generate directions? The postcode.

It’s not uncommon for organisations to discourage snailmail by hiding address details on obscure pages of their websites. And even when the address is found, the postcode is not always useful. It may be that the organisation has a mailing address whose postcode refers to a postal arrangement rather than a physical location. And some larger locations may be covered by multiple postcodes, as the DeliveryDemon realised recently, staring across a muddy field and high fence at the roof of her hotel.

It would be so simple for organisations to deliver directions by including on the location page of their websites ‘Enter the following postcode in your satnav to find us’. The DeliveryDemon wonders how long it will be before there is widespread awareness of this interface between the web and the physical world.