Thomas Telford : Letting expectations rise
A smooth journey stumbles at the last hurdle.
Thomas Telford, the knowledge business of the UK’s Institution of Civil Engineers, creates specialist products and services for the engineering community, including a variety or books and journals. Many of these can be viewed or bought through its website.
A listing of the current and recent issues, the Journals section, allows users to view an issue’s full content listing, header and abstract information, subscribe to the magazine or opt to “view full text” in PDF format. This last option launches a new browser window to a third-party site where the full version is hosted. However, to view the full article (as opposed to the abstract) users must have “subscription access” and log in to this site, or opt to buy a PDF version. No intimation of this is given on the Thomas Telford site nor on the host site until after users have tried to access the full text.
Thomas Telford is offering a useful product research service, its extensive archive and easy-to-view abstract information making tracking down a particular article relatively painless. It is unfortunate that this smooth journey stumbles at the last hurdle with the unannounced introduction of a third party demanding a subscription or cash.
It is all too easy for site owners to forget to explain logistical or navigational quirks – often in place for sound practical reasons – to their users. A simple note on the Journals page explaining the process, and indicating the difference between the on- and off-site links, would manage users’ expectations and ease their continuing progress . As it is many may drift away feeling somehow conned.http://www.thomastelford.com
First published on 13 July, 2006