Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Traffic Court Idiots

I hope readers will forgive my anger about this, but I'm just getting annoyed by something with our traffic court website.

If you want to review a page of our site while reading this, it may be helpful. Consider Hudson City Court.

Some time ago, we were getting a number of calls from people who thought we were the court. I didn't think what we were doing then was really confusing, but we still made an effort to make it less confusing.

We used to have the attorney advertisement at the top of the page, on the right side. It was clearly written to look like an advertisement, and it had our toll-free number on it.

Next we redesigned the page so it looks mostly like it looks now. We moved the court phone number to the top of the content, and put it in bold so it would be all that much harder to miss. We moved the attorney advertisement to the third line (after the Google Maps link), and had that ad designated: Defense Lawyer.

That still didn't work completely, as people called thinking we were the public defender, or in some cases they still thought we were the court.

So we revised it again slightly. We changed the "Defense Lawyer" phrase to what we thought was a more obvious "Attorney Advertisement."

And yet I still get calls. Let me be just be clear about why I think these people are idiots, even more so than all I've said.

I get calls from people on Sunday night. It's a toll-free number. What kind of idiot thinks that the courts have toll-free numbers and answer their phones on weekends? Well, apparently, a lot of idiots.

I'm open to any other suggestions on how we can make this clearer on our website. Should we put the words "Attorney Advertisement" in red? Make the real phone number bigger?

There's the numbers side of things. We get 20,000 visitors a month, and growing so we're approaching about 1000 a day on average. If only 1% of these visitors are idiots, that means 10 idiot calls a day.

Comments on this post with suggestions for how to improve the town-court.com site are welcome (as comments always are on this blog).


Chip McCormick said...

It looks like the ad lacks context. Google Adsense ads are a good example of separating ads from page content.

The town-court pages, for example, list a mailing address directly below the attorney's name, so it is not clear if the address is the court or the law office.

Consistent user errors are probably evidence of site usability problems rather than a collective lack of intelligence.

Unknown said...

Chip makes sense. I kind of agree about the usability problems being a good explanation, but I'm still skeptical. We'll think more about how we do it.

Anonymous said...

I like the site. As a Town Justice I have found it very useful and helpful in locating other courts I need to contact.

Don't mess with it