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Publish at 24 novembre 2021 Updated 26 novembre 2021

The great digital access game: a thrilling obstacle course

The challenge of reaching the coveted site

Accessing services on digital platforms is akin to an obstacle course. Understanding logic, vocabulary, having the right equipment, recent versions, and remembering passwords that are often created quickly... With each difficulty, a few percentages of people are left behind...

A panorama of the grains of sand that can block everything, and a board game to boot!



1- The labyrinth of procedures

For any administrative step or on an online commercial platform, the first obstacle lies in understanding the procedure, the data requested, the information flows. This is nothing new compared to a traditional approach at a counter. Digital autonomy requires some knowledge and skills to find one's way through administrative procedures. But online, other skills are required. For example, making sure that you are on the right site is an essential skill. Many hacking sites simulate administrative sites to siphon data from unwary users.

You've confused two sites and wasted time - take a hike.

4- Bypassing fake bot help

Apps often offer you help from a natural language chat bot. Carried by the photo or animated face of a human character, the bot provides reassurance. Alas, it is often a false lead, like those video game characters that offer you a parallel quest and take you away from your goal. Bots are like that. The help they give you is based on keywords extracted from your question, but often has nothing to do with your search.


You thought you were going to find help by chatting with a bot and you wasted your time, skip ahead.

7.- The wall of obsolete hardware

More serious and less easily circumvented, the Internet user is soon faced with the obstacle of obsolete equipment. People browsing with hardware they don't renew will be surprised by a message like "sorry, your browser version doesn't support this format."

So, an app won't be able to be installed on a phone because the Android version is too old. Another example: a PDF form will not be completed because the PDF reader does not read files in this more advanced format.

Your equipment is old, it is three and a half years old, move back two boxes.

10.- But you by the way, aren't you a robot?

You disdained the help of automatic robots and your equipment passed the test. But are you yourself the human you claim to be? To prove it, you still have to select the images with red lights, trucks or bikes. To make sure that no, really, you're not a robot, a confirmation email will be sent to you...

A one in ten chance that it will land in spam or a waiting period will be required to receive it. Another few percentages of people will be excluded. Not everyone has the mailbox or cell phone to validate their identity and some of us aren't too comfortable with this game of bikes, traffic signs and buses...

You mistook a truck for a bus, move back one space.

12.- Now let's do an eye test...

And yet, to get through the obstacles and access the services of the platforms, your eyesight will be invaluable... The instructions are sometimes written in very small font sizes. Developers often have good eyes and comfortable equipment, when users navigate with more modest screens. Input fields are sometimes invisible, links poorly contrasted, and interfaces still sometimes block on accented characters.

You miss some essential information written in size 6 - move back two boxes

14.- You received a mail

As a precautionary measure, and again to avoid hacking and bots, some organizations send the password by a paper mail. When you receive it, you don't pay attention to it because you don't put it in a specific context... When you need it... you don't know where it is anymore.

The platform publisher offers you to send a new mail, you pass.

15.-Your fingers are greedy

The platform no sooner opens on your phone than offers to upgrade, subscribe, download images appear. To stay fixed on your goal, you have to click on a tiny cross, sometimes cleverly located next to a link that leads who knows where.

But here's the thing, your fingers aren't those of a lacemaker. Your index finger alone covers a third of the screen. Only chance will allow you to click in the right place. But if your hand shakes and, as in the previous step your eyesight goes down, you may get lost on another page, again.

Your hand shook, you clicked in the wrong place and you have to log in again - start at the beginning of the board.

17.- When the timer stops you

Because you hesitate, mean well and write down your answers, logins, passwords, confirmation words to come back later, the app finds you slow. e. According to its algorithm, the odds of you not being human,or no longer being in front of your screen increase. And the security requirement commands it to log out.

Hesitating too long, checking information, noting or doing a task in parallel can be costly. In accessibility to digital applications, the issue of discouragement and more broadly the ratio of expected benefit to required effort can explain some dropouts.

You took time to check a login number, you are logged out, start the game again at the beginning of the set.

18.- Stop criticizing, the problem is you

You have found a (paid) phone number that allows you to access human help. Not a recorded voice, but a real person. The end of your difficulties? Maybe... The caller is surprised. Usually, no one has the problem you are talking about. You are the only one. It's simple though, and if you're still using equipment bought three years earlier, there's nothing anyone can do about it...

The feeling of being judged, the shame, the impression of no longer being in the loop and of being inexorably more and more confronted with interactions for which you don't master the codes also explains the problems of digital insecurity. In addition to technical and digital difficulties, there is the feeling of being downgraded, and the difficulty of asking for help.



With Bandura we learned that a sense of self-efficacy was a necessary part of developing skills. Because I feel that I am capable of dealing with a type of problem, I will dare to face it, test hypotheses, and work hard to find the solution. If I perceive myself as incapable, I will quickly give up.

Your sense of efficacy has fallen to a low, you change your game!

Illustrations: Frédéric Duriez

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