Saturday, February 09, 2008

One thing I find hilarious?

When you click into the website for Metro North from the MTA, you're asked to choose which side of the Hudson River your destination is on. This is usually a question I can answer, because I grew up just a few miles from the Hudson, which loomed large in the minds of the people who settled my hometown. But, I don't always know -- there's a lot of towns in New York, and I usually just start with a town name -- nobody says, "Oh, I'll meet you at Beacon, East of the Hudson." Imagine not having grown up here, and having to find, say, New Paltz.

It gets a little funnier, even. Because if you do click 'West of Hudson,' you get a web page that says, "Psych! You want New Jersey Transit!" So, if you've been told to take a Metro North train somewhere, and you go to the website, you're confronted with a question you can't answer as opposed to a notice that New Jersey Transit runs the lines West of the Hudson.

So, this is a combination of two information cultures -- transit people tend to assume you already know everything about the area you're traveling in, and web information architects get more happiness and satisfaction from arranging the information they have in consonant ways rather than displaying the information you need. It's funny to see these interface pathologies work so well together.

Shout out to HopStop! It still can't get me to New Paltz, which might be a foolish dream in any case, but it guides me through this information in a much more accessible manner. I've essentially stopped using the MTA Trip Planner. But, don't ask me about web revenue models.

No comments: