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There is a such thing as too many details

Sep - 12 - 2012
Nicole C. Engard
silly signage

David Lee King posted this great photo a while back with the following summary:

So … doesn’t everyone know how to cross the road when there’s a crosswalk sign? I mean really – you push the button and wait for the signal to walk … right? This is pretty simple stuff, and it really doesn’t need four lines of text and two different voice recordings to help you successfully get across the road.

Guess what? Sometimes, we do the same thing to our customers. Too many instructions. Signage with detailed explanations. Websites that provide way too many details about a library service.

Guess what? Sometimes, we do the same thing to our customers. Too many instructions. Signage with detailed explanations. Websites that provide way too many details about a library service.

How about our library catalogs? There might be too many details there, too. For example, I just looked up “The Hobbit,” and found this line of text:

Description: 271, [4] p. : ill., maps ; 21 cm.

I can hear our customers now – “Oh great! This book is 21 cm tall – just what I was looking for!” Not to mention the full MARC record that’s attached. Our customers are just clamoring for that.

David makes a great point, but I don’t think libraries are the only ones who do this. Even Amazon has too much info sometimes, making it hard for even me (a librarian) to find the item I want. I think we could all take a few lessons from Google and their simplicity when it comes to our discovery interfaces.

One Response so far.

  1. Peter Murray says:

    Agreed, with a twist! Not only is that line too much information, it is also unintelligible to screen readers.


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