There is a simple rule in design,
if you need to add instructions, then it’s a bad design, start over.
Of course there are exceptions to this rule, like machines used in professional and work environments, where the operator needs to be trained to use them. Those machines are not for everybody. But if you are designing products or machines for use by the general public, then you should be abiding by this rule as best you can.
Machines used by the general public need to be simple, clear, and as straight forward as possible. You need to design for the broadest range of people, because that is your market.
The parking ticket machine in the photo is typical of a badly designed machine, and subsequently a badly designed user interface (and subsequently a bad user experience).
Firstly, it has instructions. But not just one (1) instruction, thirteen (13)!
Each red circle represents an instruction, or a set of instructions. There are just far too many red circles here.
What do you think a user does when they are faced with this many instructions? They start scanning the entire machine. Which instruction is the first one? Which one is relevant to me? What do I do next? Where do I start?
They are overwhelmed with information.
Some information isn’t even relevant to the task at hand, like the ‘gift cards’ advertisement. Which is made worse by the fact that it actually uses the word “card” and the task the user is trying to complete here involves a parking ticket (card) and possibly a credit card. This is just bad design.
To make matters even worse, there are also five (5) holes which may, or may not, afford the insertion of something. Remember, the user is holding a ticket in their hand, ready to insert it somewhere.
So not only are the “written” instructions telling the user something, but these openings are also telling the user something, “Insert here”. Even more information and more confusion.
I mean just look at that last photo…. it’s a mess. This parking machine needs redesigning urgently.
Problem? Damn straight!
This is not a difficult problem, so the opportunity is there to be taken. Take it!
Citizenrod | art | design | think