I got into an interesting discussion with a colleague recently about those signs we often see in commons environments: library help arrow this way, IT help arrow that way, even though both staff are sitting side-by-side at the same desk. You might as well draw a line down the floor. I could have used a photo to illustrate, but I didn't want to pick on anyone in particular.
Now tell me, why do we do this? Why do we make our user make a choice? Library patron: "Let's see, I'm having trouble using a library database but that might be because I've been having problems with my laptop. So do I go to the IT side or the library side? Gee, I sure don't want to look stupid so maybe I shouldn't go up to the desk at all."
Is it really that hard for us to hand off a question? I like to think we've got the art of handing off questions nailed in the Hub. Friendly staff member: "Oh sure, sounds like it might be an issue with your account. I bet Stacey here can help you with that when she's finished with a chat. So what do you think of our new coach?"
I have been opposed to those signs for quite some time. Admittedly, we did have one for a short time, but I quietly removed it. Both our IT and library staff sit under a giant Help sign with no differentiation. We should diagnose the problem and get our user to the expert, rather than make our user second-guess themselves. Let's make getting help as easy as possible for our users, not for us.
Photo by Alice Wasielewski