What the heck is 'look and feel' anyway?

In this NYT story on usability testing (registration may be required), we get the following quotation that shows how much education is still needed in the public sphere:

One HFI client, the TD Bank Financial Group, encountered some negative feedback when it began its usability testing, said Steve Gesner, the company’s chief technology officer. "Customers said they couldn’t find things on the Web site and they asked us why things weren’t more intuitive," Mr. Gesner said. "We weren’t sending a consistent look and feel across the site."

The client, Gesner, refers to what they are doing as “sending” (i.e. broadcasting) a “consistent look and feel across the site.” Not only does this quotation not especially make sense, but it has very little to do with customers’ being able to find what they need. He’s still talking one-way brand and visual style, when the problems rests with ‘findability’ (part of information architecture) and interaction design.

I’m not dumping on this individual, but quoting him to point out how difficult it still is for people to get their heads around the problems their shared information environments face. The fact that he struggles to make a logical sentence is a powerful indicator of being stuck between paradigms.

And the fact that this article puts eyeball-tracking and taxonomies in the same bucket further highlights how much of a mish-mash this must all seem to be to those outside our disciplines (or even to many of us inside them).

Author: Andrew Hinton

I use information to architect better places for humans. More at andrewhinton.com.