I got a speeding ticket, and I got tons of mail from Driver’s Ed courses. The businesses that look like they didn’t even bother with design (to me) do not have a great deal of face-validity. In the situation I was in, trying to pick an unrecommended online course (preferably one that wouldn’t steal my money and run), or suck horribly, many of these postcards had no face validity.
Many businesses promised to be cheap, almost all promised to be funny. Some led with the “dumb, hot chicks use us” effect. Some barely made an effort at anything other than being noticed. One even emphasized that in addition to their course being funny, you wouldn’t “have to” read! (WOW! Save me from READING please!!!!)
The state website was not at all helpful in eliminating prospects, since every one that had sent a postcard was legitimate, and their website was simply a list of names in alphabetical order. I wanted to base my choice on something. That left my judgment, and my perception of these companies’ websites, and the promotional materials sent to me in the mail. As a user experience professional, the ones in the running stood out to me because their postcard or website appeared to offer a good user experience.
Perceived User Experience (UX) Influenced My Choice
The process of gaining the right to take driver’s ed courses to erase a ticket is full of hassles. Documentation, wending your way through ill-thought-out state websites, bold type, ALERTS, potential roadblocks, confusing (but legally correct) language offer many opportunities for simple, avoidable mistakes.
While I understand that the state of Texas has a huge population and citizens with a wide spectrum of “competencies” (some people are idiots), the constant “everything in bold” mentality doesn’t help anybody. If everything’s bold, nothing stands out. If even simple things are warned, it makes a user pay less attention to your warnings. It’s like your mom constantly nagging you; after a while you tune it out.
In my experience if a company sends out reputable materials and has a reputable-looking website, they are more reputable. My perception of that company is that they treat me like an adult, respect my sensibilities, and won’t…suck. I know it’ll suck at least marginally, no matter what. I need it to be over with quickly, with a minimum of hassle, and these classes REALLY didn’t seem funny or hassle-free.
Now, while I love a good comedian, I don’t like every comedian, and TBH, my sense of humor isn’t required to take a defensive driving course. My take on it is “let’s just get this over with”. If it’s not funny, it’s not funny. It probably won’t be funny to me either way.
Why I Chose To Go With DriveLikeThis
I chose to take a class from Drive Like This. They also sent me a postcard (all of which felt like an invasion of privacy, but I guess it’s public record), but their postcard was different. It seemed like it came from a company that wasn’t fly-by-night and actually put some thought into this. High face-validity FTW! I still didn’t trust them, but their attention to detail made them more trustworthy and I had to trust someone eventually. Why not the guys who seem to know what they’re doing?
The layout and design of the card was clean and clear, they didn’t promise fantastic, fun, HIGH-LA-RIOUS hijinks! I felt like I wouldn’t be navigating around their bad design choices to figure out what I was needed to do next…and legally MUST do next.
The front of the card says, “Defensive Driving Sucks. We Suck Less.” That kind of honesty I can get behind.
When you said, “Yes, I would like a license to drive” you also said, “and I agree to submit to a BAC test if requested.” (Always read the fine print.)
Their tone of voice is friendly, matter-of-fact, avoids the tasteless jokes. It’s approachable, not hysterically funny, but it’s difficult to be hysterically funny when you’re talking about fatalities and traffic laws to a wide audience.
So I committed the $25 (they all pretty much cost $25 for online courses), and started taking their lessons.
Verdict: Excellent Choice
I am about 50% of the way through and the course doesn’t suck. They’ve lived up to their promise, and it’s actually less awful than a root canal, even though it takes a lot longer.
- The timers are clearly marked, and consistently placed.
- Warnings are consistent and well-worded, not alarming or over-emphasized.
- The graphics and videos are consistent in tone and appeal.
- They use a well-chosen palette of soothing colors.
- The header and body fonts are clean, open, and well-proportioned (easy to read) The fonts used are Snicker (a 40’s-style friendly font) for the headlines and Myriad for the body copy.
- Text is appropriately chunked for easy reading.\Everything is spelled properly, punctuated with care.
I feel my UX-perception-based judgment, while pretty much all I had to go on, was the right one.
- I’m not *enjoying* the course any more than I would say, perhaps, SLEEPING this amount of time, but I am not hating it, either.
- I’m spending the same amount of time watching a clock tick down to 0 after I correctly read, answered and submitted answers to the quizzes.
- I do have the benefit of good video choices that fill some of this time for me, while staying on topic.
- I don’t have the extra baggage of an annoying, grating, ugly experience on top of the fact that I legally must spend 300 minutes of my life doing this.
- I’ve learned a few things that will make me an annoying backseat driver armed with brand new Did You Knows (poor Tony).
I also have gained incremental trust that they will send me my documentation on time, and that I can soon put this in the past. Let’s hope so — we’ll see!