Do your shopping from the comfort of your armchair!

by Rhodri Buttrick on 5 November 2010

“Do your shopping from the comfort of your armchair!”  This is what we are so often told, as apparently it’s easier!

Apart from the fact that I like going to town, this mantra from the e-commerce age isn’t always true for all of us, all of the time.  Although I am very computer literate (I rely on them for my daily work and organisation), I rarely buy anything through the internet and when I do I tend to ask my parents to do it for me.  It’s all to do with those passwords and favourite questions – one for each site.  The warnings says “Don’t use the same passwords – look after your password – don’t disclose it!”

All very good advice but I simply can’t remember all those passwords and even if I did, I certainly would have trouble with those very long debit card numbers, written in “hard to see” silver on pale backgrounds. Long numbers are dreadful for many dyslexics as they often cannot hold the numbers in their heads long enough to punch them in.  Then there is VeriSign.  This is the banking security “extra”, which asks you for the 3rd, 5th, and 8th letter or digit in your (different) password. It changes which three it asks for each time.

Is writing the password down, then counting off the letters, really such a good idea, especially as I cannot write legibly?  Is this what they meant us to do? Do I then have to keep a shredder on my student desk along with my scanner, printer, speakers, head-set, mouse and lap-top? The problem is, that as time goes on, we are compelled to do more and more through the internet and less and less through real people. The options are closing.

This was a classic example of what was discussed when I spoke in Vienna two years ago at the European Commission’s e-Inclusion conference. You can hear my speech here.  What is easy for some people is hard for others and it is all too easy for designers to forget “the others”.  This is however, one area,  which, if solved, will raise a cheer from all the population!

Photo credit: bsr_dk via Flickr/Creative Commons

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