There is construction work happening on the street outside. They’ve been at it for a while now. It’s loud and dusty, but that doesn’t bother me as much as not knowing which footpath I should be walking on. You see, there is one side of the road which is closed to pedestrians, and one which is not; and they change from time to time. Yet both sides are covered in debris, people in hard hats and equipment like you see in those Hard Yakka commercials.
There is sometimes a sign at the start of a footpath which reads ‘use other footpath’. I like it when they use that one, it’s meaning isn’t too hard to decipher. That sign isn’t always there though, and often the only way of knowing if I’m on the correct side is if I’ve made it to the end of the street without being chastised by the wielder of the stop/slow lollipop sign of ultimate glory.
I can empathise with them – it would be annoying having to redirect all those people walking on the wrong side of the road each day; it’s for their own safety after all. I’d have thought this would prompt the internal question “where’s that sign that tells people which footpath to use?”. Not always the case – and commenting that they may want to consider marking the places to walk a little better doesn’t seem to have found its way into the suggestion box as of yet.
It’s funny is how different things are to a pedestrian compared to someone working on the site. It’s easy to get annoyed at someone for not behaving in the way that we expected them to, but pedestrians can only interpret the information they have been given.
Things aren’t that different on the web. We don’t want to create a confusing place that people will avoid for a faster route in pursuit of their destination. We need to make sure that we have suggested a clear path for people to travel.
It’s a jarring thing, visiting a new site and not being given enough information to know where to step next. Sure, you won’t be greeted by an angry lollipop wielder if you take a wrong turn (hmm note to self: 404 page for a traffic service site…); but you may find yourself channeling a bit of that sense of frustration.
I guess what this has made me realise is that for a pedestrian to take action and construct a sign would be an oxymoron. So is getting annoyed at a pedestrian for walking. We have access to more power tools than you could fit into the back of a (really good ute name) ute; we just need to channel and listen to people who think the path could be made a little clearer.