Giant : Under-gearing assistance

Usability does not support the usefulness of an enquiry service.

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The feature

Giant, Taiwan-based bicycle manufacturer, weakens the benefit and usefulness of an online enquiries feature.

Giant’s UK website, one of 37 country sites worldwide, has a Support menu in its rich footer with five options that include ‘FAQ’s / Contact’. The link opens a page that is headed by a photograph and four paragraphs of introduction urging users to “please check the FAQs in the first instance to save you time” and “resolve your issue as fast as possible”. The page continues with a series of six headings related to categories of question; for example, General, Warranty. Each heading is followed immediately by an exposed nest of hyperlinked questions, with the size of nests ranging from four to 16 and covering 63 questions in total.

All the questions and their answers are then set out in a simple unbroken list, with a ‘Back to the top’ link after each question. Clicking on a question in one of the nests takes the user to the corresponding question/answer in the long list; ‘Back to the top’ links always return the user to the introduction at the head of the page.

The takeaway

Giant’s UK ‘FAQ’s / Contact’ feature covers a more extensive range of issues than many of its fellow country sites and, in an introduction notable for its clear writing, gives enquirers a compelling incentive to use it as first option. Unfortunately, the management of the page saddles it with a far from persuasive level of usability that does anything but help users resolve their issue “as fast as possible”.

The initial problem is that the full scope of the questions is not revealed until and unless users scroll past the introduction and through the entire list. This severely reduces the real benefit of breaking the list down into categories – which is to make it more browsable. Opportunities to compress the page for easier browsing are also missed: for example, tabbed navigation of the categories, which could refresh the page to show the selected set of questions; contract/expand functionality to show an answer only when the user selects its question. Giant’s double-barrelled titling of the feature as ‘FAQ’s / Contact’ and its pointed introduction to it indicates that the company fully understands the benefit of FAQs to itself in managing online enquiries as well as the assistance it provides to visitors. But that is unlikely to be delivered in full until the handling of it moves up a gear.

First published 08 July, 2014
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