Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Joined-up spending

In a previous post, The agency that will never forget you, I discussed the dilemma of closed or partially closed identity services. A year later in October 2015 one of those services, the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, launched an open interface.

The new interface is seductive for two reasons. Firstly, unlike the old clunky website, the design is fresh, simple to use, expansive in its search options, and free. The latter then leads to the second point of seduction - it is easy to buy a B, D or M certificate and see it within minutes, sometimes seconds. That's joined-up spending - the ability to part with personal funds in a more streamlined and efficient end-to-end inquiry. 

However, this interface doesn't stick purchasing obstacles in the way either. Paying for small numbers of credits, requesting credentials before a decision to buy is made, paying for a restricted number of pageviews - all of these are evidence of mean interfaces which discourage joined-up spending. 

Although this new development has been delivered in the context of government initiatives to make doing business with government easier, it is an exemplar for genealogical services which think that throwing an overflowing content bucket over the hapless searcher is enough**.

"Joined-up" is a term that emerged early in the 21st century and spread across academic and library service delivery circles. It was and is the goal of government initiatives to make doing business with government easier. The words 'efficient and effective' have been bandied about for so long that they no longer mean much. It's exceedingly satisfying, even at the detriment of my wallet, to see a government department deliver on them regardless. 

** with the possible exception of the Free___ services FreeBMD, FreeCEN, and FreeReg currently being compiled and deployed with generous interfaces.