The UX Critic: Washington State Parks Reservations – Can you find it?

In this edition of The UX Critic, we’re going to talk about discoverability. Much of the time I’m on the web, I’m just a user. I’m pretty good at turning off my UX hat… otherwise I’d probably go insane… and just being a user.

Camping season is coming soon, so I’ve been exploring some parks and looking to make reservations. One park is run by the Washington State Parks system. I Googled for Washington State Parks Reservations and came across a result at the top titled “Reservations | Washington State Parks and Recreation”. Yeah, that sounds right.

The result is

Take a look at this full screenshot and let me know where you would click to make a reservation.


At first I thought this wasn’t the reservations page. So I clicked Making Reservations in the left nav. It turns out, that is this page.

Tip #1: In the main navigation, highlight the page or section the user is on.

The next thing I did was scan the page.

Tip #2: User’s don’t read. They scan.

And while scanning the page, I found a link near the bottom right of the page. It’s just linked text in a large paragraph. It reads “online reservation system”. I clicked that and found my way.

My awkwardness meter pinged and I took some screenshots so I could write this later. Coming back to it now, two things stand out to me:

  1. As I actually read the content on the page, I realize the link I clicked on was in the ADA-Accessible Reservations section. It wasn’t even meant for me.
  2. In the very first paragraph, the word “online” is linked. That does indeed take the user to the online reservations system. But I never noticed this until I took my “user” hat off, and started digging in.

All they really need is a button that says “online reservations.”

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