“No records found!” for KDAL. Wha?

NACO WACKO?

Point your browser to this page on the National Aeronautical Charting Office’s website. Type in KDAL and make sure the “FAA” radio button is checked. Then, click “Complete Search”.

No records found!

Wha? What do you mean no records found? I’m on the Texas procedures page – isn’t that where I find procedures for KDAL? Silly me, I didn’t check the “ICAO” button letting the system know that I was using an ICAO identifier to locate the airport. Here is a screen capture of their search box:

200703301715

After banging my head on the coffee table, I cried aloud, “Come on guys – add the smarts to treat DAL and KDAL equally!”. I was annoyed because it took four clicks to get to the page, only to end up with No records found. Four clicks in Internet-land is forever!.

How I would suggest changing their from: remove everything except for the “airport identifier” label, text box, and search button. All the rest can be figured out after the user clicks the search button.

So many examples exist where a web site could have easily shown you relevant results without having you fiddle with toggles and switches. Google, for example, keeps it really simple: one search box and one button.

NACO’s primary purpose is designing, developing, and distributing instrument flight procedures. I think it should take one – at most two – clicks to get to a desired procedure from their home page. Each extra click means more page scanning (takes time) and backtracking (takes time) if you click on the wrong link. More clicks => more pages => more scanning => more time => more frustration.

Here’s an exercise to try on your own: find the Biter Four Arrival STAR on the NACO site and report back how long it takes 🙂

FCP and Disambiguation

We have two principles at MyMetar.com that govern usability: fewest possible clicks (FPC) and disambiguation. Firstly, we need to get you where you want as quickly as possible. Secondly, if you are searching, we have to get you as close to the right answer as possible. Disambiguation – knowing that DAL could mean one of six things – helps us quickly create a path to the right answer.

You can see FPC and disambiguation concepts in action on your personal page. For example:

  1. Type “DAL” in the either the “Add Station” or “Get METARs” search box.
  2. “KDAL – Dalls Love Field” is third from the top, along with other results that match the string “DAL”.
  3. Type in another “L”.

The options are narrowed to Dallas area results. As you type more characters, the search string becomes less ambiguous, and we lead you more quickly to the desired result.

The next evolution of our disambiguation logic will be such that if you type in “Love” you get “Dallas – Love Field” and “Arizona – Love Field”. Performance is key, so we’ll add this in so long as we can keep performance status quo.

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