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The Most Evil thing on the Internet - the Sliders Of Doom

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By Mark Tipper, Executive Creative Director

February 20, 2012 | 4 min read

The Internet has the power to dispense sublime good or evil to the world; we all know that. From connecting loved ones across great distances and giving suppressed nations a voice, to the unscrupulous phisher trying to scam your granny out of her life savings and the dark and sinister world of pedophile rings. The Internet has them all.

So it was with great surprise that an old colleague of mine suggested that the most evil thing on the Internet is a slider-bar tool on a well know money-lending site which can show you instantly how much you can borrow and how much it’ll cost you.

As an evangelist of hard working and useful digital ideas I found this an interesting standpoint. After all it’s actually a great tool that’s incredibly easy to use and I have no doubt is the jewel in their ‘sales funnel’ crown.

Further digging revealed that a younger and less wise sibling had been seduced by the sashaying portents of ‘free’ cash and later suffered buyer’s remorse when he had to pay back the money with over 4,200% APR interest.

You see, my colleague believes it trivializes the consequences of borrowing money and removes any fear in the application process by “gamification”.

Setting aside the moral question of what a consenting adult is offered and not offered on the Internet (and yes I include students in the consenting adults genre). The contempt for the tool itself is what interested me.

I agree that something as simple as a couple of slider bars can encourage people to take action towards borrowing money, and what is wrong with that?

Isn’t it about time the customer’s experience is as simple and easy to use as possible even when offset by the complexities of regulation and customer protection?

The lenders in question have gone out of their way to clearly show concise explanations to the confusing industry jargon, but also the real and tangible cost of interest. So if anything, the clear no nonsense approach is a refreshing departure from the old school banking approach of indecipherable charge rates information and interminable form filling.

Cutting through the guff with intuitive interface design is usually trumpeted as a beacon of good practice of course; Going back in time (quite a bit), I remember when British Airways first starting showing flexible flight times and prices all on one easy to read page. I nearly wet myself.

Despite old age and the onset of walnut-bladder, I get that feeling of wonder less and less as best practice becomes the acceptable level for the ‘norm’, but in contrast, I am still surprised and shocked when I come across so much poorly considered content layout. After all, it’s called interactive design for a reason, huh?

One half of the battle is to understand the content and the other half is to understand how the mechanism of delivery can aid the experience of that content.

Surely this is why subject matter experts without understanding of what digital ‘can do’ AND interactive experts without any interest in the subject matter are equally responsible for why so much unnecessarily complex content still gets published without due consideration for simplification of the customer experience.

The ‘sliders of doom’ demonstrate a very simple conclusion to a business problem from someone who understood how the customer comprehends the content, but also what the considerations of acceptable business practice is.

If challenging the established business norms with more effective, customer focussed ‘kit’ truly is the digital battleground of the future, you can definitely count me in as part of the axis of doom.

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