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Government Software Gains Persistence

How I Learned to Love Browser Navigation

Quick show of hands; who’s hit the back button in their browser and seen a message something like this?

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The page “used information” and choosing to continue “might” repeat the action. Does that mean if I continue that I will end up with two DVD copies of Stallone’s 1987 arm-wrestling classic “Over the Top”? Maybe, I won’t know until I find myself in the situation of re-gifting one to my hard to buy for father-in-law.

How about this?

You’re online shopping for your dream car. You’ve reached a great used car site, sorted by price, and begun to navigate the inventory. You’re halfway down the 3rd page of listings when you see it—the perfect Ferrari Testarossa. Click. Unfortunately, this isn’t the dream car you’d hoped for. Among other things, the original engine has been replaced by one from a ‘76 Ford Pinto. Undaunted, you click the back button to continue your search and… WHAT THE! Your sort has changed, you’re scrolled to the top of the page…and, in fact, you’re not even the same page anymore. Annoying.

Web experiences like these happen all the time.  Not only are they annoying, each incites a certain fear-based response from the technology user. It's an affliction I refer to as scared to click syndrome (STCS). 

Scared to Click Syndrome

STCS is a behavior exhibited by technology users with a particular aversion to unnecessary navigation and inconvenience.

Common symptoms include:

  • Conflicted wavering of one’s cursor over a web link.
  • A penchant for living in ignorance rather than run the risk of following a link only to return to a reset page.
  • Preemptive tendency to open in new window for fear of the ramifications of clicking a link.

SCTS is just one of many reasons technology users build and harbor negativity toward web apps. Another reason? There are a lot of bad web apps out there.  In fact, many of them are imposed upon us at our places of work. Suffice it to say, frustration and fear are not good bedfellows with technology adoption.

That's why when Cartegraph set out to build its web-based Operations Management System (OMS), we took these user experience problems very seriously. (I can testify to this. I was there.) We quickly realized that the ability to easily move around the system—aka navigating without fear—was integral to OMS adoption, and that adoption was integral to the customer’s success.

How seriously did we take it?

The “we built a dedicated framework,” kind of serious. Our Persistence Framework allows us to give the user an unparalleled web experience. As you move around within the system, Cartegraph remembers everything—your map position, your scroll position in the grid, your loaded filters, the order of those filters…I could go on and on. And I will because I am really proud of this.

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The tasks listed in this work order summary map tip are all hyperlinked to their associated task detail page. I can easily click one of those links to get the additional information and when I navigate back, I'll see the screen exactly how I left it. The tip will be open. It’ll be on the correct tab within that tip. My scroll position within that tab will even be the same. It’s like I never left the original web page. That’s persistence (I’d show you another screenshot of it, but you’re already looking at it. Because it’s identical).

Your first response might be “Hey, that’s a neat trick.” But this relentless focus on usability is much more than a simple perk. It builds a user’s confidence in the system. It delivers a predictable, consistent user experience. And most of all, it eliminates the user’s fear of navigation. When users start to trust the system they will be more likely to explore the system. That confidence and curiosity will make for less frustrated users who work more productively and efficiently.

Cartegraph persistence is just one example of our commitment to creating technology that’s easy to adopt and use. In a sense, we hope persistence is a feature that Cartegraph users never realize is there—something that doesn’t stand out because it makes so much sense.  But if they do notice it, we hope they realize that persistence is the only cure for STCS. 

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