Vodafone : Having a word in the wrong place
Internal jargon or shorthand can make for indecipherable, confusing or misleading navigation tags and site labelling.
Vodafone has expanded from the UK market to become one of the world’s biggest mobile phone service providers. As well as an online store its UK site offers customers several web-based services including TopUp, Email and Online billing.
The latter section includes a Demo that uses example web pages to show how to set up, access and manage your phone accounts online. None of the sample screen shots includes an address bar. Only when customers are accessing the real service on their own computers will they see that the URL which appears as they wait for their itemised bill to load includes the phrase “billed_dummy”.
Circumstances have combined to expose an in-house blindspot that could offend Vodafone customers by giving the impression the company secretly thinks of them as ‘dummies’.
The unitended faux pas is highlighted by the delay that occurs while the page loads. For the 20 seconds or so that this process takes there is little else for the customer to look at but the potentially offending URL string. Thus a piece of in-house titling that would have a clear and objective meaning to page designers and editors (dummy = template) is exposed to an audience to which this will almost certainly be unknown.
As well as the specific point that URL strings should be monitored from the end-viewer’s perspective, Vodafone’s embarrassment raises a more general issue. Even where there is no risk of offence the use of internal jargon or shorthand for navigation tags and site labelling can be indecipherable, confusing or misleading to users.http://www.vodafone.co.uk
First published on 10 February, 2004