Spoken Directions to Web Content
"Go To Page Number" is a new technique that enables companies and organizations to direct their website visitors to specific web content on the phone or in other voice mediums. This technique can change the "service experience" and save a lot of money for companies and organizations.
When a customer calls a service center, the directions for reaching a web page are often difficult to convey:
"Do you see the red button at the middle of the home page that says, "Download drivers?"
(Wait for the caller to find the button).
"Click on the button and then scroll down to the type of product you have."
(Wait for the caller to locate their product type).
"Now select your model from the list."
(Wait for the caller to read all list.)
"Now click on it and choose the operating system you have on your computer."
Visitors to a website often give up without finding what they were looking for. Sometimes they do not bother to look deeper than the homepage and instead choose to pick up the phone.
"Go To Page Number" is a solution that can reduce time spent on the phone.
Providing phone support is expensive. Customer service representatives should spend their time answering questions and solving problems isn't already on a web page. When users call, they should be directed to the page with the answer to their question as efficiently as possible.
The "Go To Page Number" Experience
Caller: I need to download a driver for product This and That.
Service person: What computer do you have?
Caller: This and That.
Service person: Does it run This or That?
Call : This.
(Service person quickly finds the correct page on the website. Near the search box there is another box that says "Go To Page Number" with the current page number displayed bellow.)
Service person: At the right side of the page there is a purple box that says "Go To Page Number". Do you see it?
Service person: Please type the number "One Six Eight Two" and click "Go".
Caller: (types and clicks)
Service person: Have you reached the page that says "Download driver for product model This for operating system That?"
Caller: Yes. That was quick! I can manage it from here.
Service person: Glad to be of service. Good-bye.
"Go To Page Number" In Action
I added the "Go to page number" to the Web site of the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem. This feature was originally designed to direct users from exhibits at the museum to content on the website. After creating the feature I saw people using the feature in new ways -- the staff began using page numbers in email and phone conversations among themselves.
I discovered when I talked to the cashier of the museum that she was directing callers to web pages using "Go To Page Number". Callers had no problem understanding this new way of navigating the site.
Does it make sense for your site?
This is where user research comes in. When deciding whether to add this feature to your site, you should interview the people who answer the phone, or their superiors. Ask them how often the answers to questions they are asked can be found on the website. If "All the time" is their answer, you should consider adding "Go To Page Number" to the site.
Most Content Management Systems usually assign unique numeric identifiers to pages. With them, you just need a form that enables users to go directly to the page by entering that number.
If the website has fewer than 100,000 pages, automatic numbering is OK. Since the number is usually typed as it is given, people should have no problem dealing with a five digit number. If more pages are expected, the first 1,000 (1-999) numbers can be reserved for manual assignment. The most popular pages or difficult to find pages should get those numbers so it will be easy to read them over the phone.
The numeric IDs should be unique and permanent since they will probably wind up being printed, and because if they don't change, then people might also share the numbers with other users on their own.
The Future Of "Go To Page Number"
"Go To Page Number" is a new form of site navigation. As it is implemented on more sites, it will be applied in new ways. For example, it may make sense to combine the "go to page" form and the site's search form. Some issue tracking systems take this approach -- when you search for a specific case number, you're taken directly to that case.
Published - September 2009
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Amir Dotan who has helped me to clarify my thinking about this feature, to Rafe Colburn who has edited this article and to Jeffery Zeldman who has unintentionally made me realize that this idea is more about customer service than about web design.
About the author: Hanan Cohen is an Israeli internet activist currently working as the Webmaster of the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem. blog comments powered by Disqus
It's up to you.