Seth Grodin is a marketing guru and blogger who is usually on the cutting edge of all things good. Correspondent John reminded me to check his blog concerning the complexity of public interface design. He has three simple rules — you can go to his blog to get the other two:
Seth uses hotel showers as an example:
The more often a device is used by first-time users, the more standardized the interface should be.
For example, the shower in a hotel. Some of the most elegant, clever design ever created by man exists in the dials and wheels in the hotel shower. All of it is worse than a waste–it’s dangerous and time-consuming. Guests don’t want to learn a new way to turn on the shower, they don’t want to burn themselves, they just want the water to come out, at the right temperature, in the right direction, with the right quantity. The first time.
This is one of my biggest complaints about hotels. Why not a couple of simple knobs, hot on the left, cold on the right?
John adds the following:
I’ve always thought that parking should be an activity that people don’t think twice about…almost invisible. It should be a result of great public design in all phases of the parking experience.
Why does our interface with the parker need to be complex. We want to simply get their money and send them on their way. I suggest that if revenue control manufacturers had their great aunts or grand mothers come in and test their POF or lane equipment they would have a very different design.
At a trade show a few years ago. I went to each P and D manufacturer and walked up to the machine. I told them to tell me nothing and I tried to use it by simply looking at it and trying to follow the instructions.
Now I know a lot about parking and equipment. In every case, I was stumped. It seemed like it was their goal to make it more complicated that it had to be.
A friend once said to me “Why is it that the parking industry is the only one where the mag stripe on your car can go on any which way on different machines. Go to the ATM or to the gas pump or to the super market, and the mag stripe is either down and to the left or on the left side and up if you swipe vertically.” Walk through the IPI this next month and see how many different ways there are to put your card in.
Seth Grodin and John are right. We need to be transparent, easy, and forgotten.