Civic Design

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Israelis struggle with poor usability

Israel's Likud party's primary held this week appears to have been a usability fiasco. The new computer interface was so difficult that even party leaders had trouble using it, according to an article in the Jerusalem Post.

Amir Dotan described the system for us. The voters choose 12 candidates from one list, 2 candidates from a second list, and 1 from a third list. But, instead of selecting a name, they have to select the ID number for the candidates they want. No names appear on the ballot, just a list of ID numbers representing all of the candidates. Touch a number, and the name appears in a list. Once the selections are made, a review screen shows the number, name and (sometimes) a picture. The confusion seems to have been a poorly implemented attempt to display all candidates on one screen.

Political opponents accused current leaders of nothing less than "raping democracy" with a difficult-to-use computer system. But the answer is probably simpler than that: they forgot that usability matters. And it matters the most in "mission critical" situations like elections.

Links:

Amir Dotan's blog (in Hebrew) www.amirdotan.com/blog

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