Posts tagged “dispenser”

Curating Consumption

More observations and stuff that Beth and Steve have assembled over the past few weeks.

Can’t get there from here
This is such a fundamental usability issue I have to think there’s something wrong with my iPad or the Kindle app. Which operation is not supported? Buying this book. That’s right…click on that inviting little link down there that says “Buy Now” and get this error. Okay, this is Amazon taking a swipe at Apple (“Mo way you’re getting 30% of our revenue for something on the Kindle!”) But I’m not sure the average user will get that. They’ve helpfully provided another link for me: “What? That Buy Now link that should take you to iTunes to purchase this book doesn’t work? Goodness! Well, how about you See details for this book in the Kindle Store!” Nope – no mas. That operation isn’t currently supported either. So two lovely, juicy links tempting me to buy this book with no way to act [Conceptual sidenote: This would be an ideal design for many vices if they could tempt you but never give you the ability to follow through…the beer that can’t be opened, or the hermetically sealed chocolate bar]. I imagine there’s a product team somewhere at Amazon scratching their heads wondering why sales aren’t tracking but see an astronomical number of clicks on their buy links.Hint: we users will keep clicking thinking we must be doing something wrong, thinking “surely both buy options aren’t dead ends”. When we realize that they are, we get frustrated and take our own stand, in this case simply not buying. /BT

Two is better than one?
In nearly every bathroom I’ve been in (in the US at least) there are at least two soap dispensers – one in use and the other over to the side like yesterday’s newspaper. They’re in all shapes and sizes, usually one (like this one) is discreetly attached to the sink while the other is mounted proudly on the wall. I’m guessing it was aesthetics that sold the sleek little bar peeking from the counter top, I just wonder how long it took for the folks who had to crawl under the sink and refill it to put up a silent revolt – leaving people to pump furiously at one sink, then another then another, to no avail – before management broke down and put the one on the wall. /BT

Too soon or too late?
Gangnam Style is the global sensation that ever your parents know about. I imagine the restaurant owners protest-too-much denial of cashing in on a (no doubt fleeting) trend by pointing to the district in Seoul over the song. But then why is the clucky poultry mascot doing such a distinctive little dance?

Update (June 2013) – Church’s Chicken in Canada is doing something similar (thanks, Mom!)!

The remote control that gives you a lecture in virtue
In a hotel in Melbourne, the staff have clearly become tired of people complaining. Sure it’s partly about delayed gratification but it’s also a well-understood usability problem when feedback is slower than we expect. If the elevator call light doesn’t go on, you’re going to hit it again. But the warm-up for hotel televisions is its own flavor of usability hell. Will the set turn on? Will an LED change color? And how quickly? Apparently this particular TV set is so far off of expectations than the solution was a lovely sticker appealing to your sense of decency. Whatever, that’s a multiple of 8 seconds I’ll never get back again. /SP

Do This Don’t Do That Can’t You Read The Sign?

Earlier this week I spent the day with the design team of a global technology company. I can’t say much more but I can share a couple of photographs from different bathrooms.

The standard soap dispenser has been repurposed for hand lotion. The soap comes from the other kind of standard dispenser, a foot away, next to the sink.

Washing your hands is a fairly unconscious behavior, you assess the space visually and quickly move through the various tasks…so who stops to read the sign that says Hand Lotion? That sign serves more of a “here’s how you messed up, buddy” explanation than as a preventative measure. I had a hard time stopping myself from getting hand lotion when I wanted soap.

We did have a group discussion about observing signs in the environment to identify workarounds and opportunities for improvement and so I was pleased to have an example from their environment to share back. This ended up in the always enjoyable men’s bathroom vs. women’s bathroom comparison…in this office the women’s bathroom includes a dispenser for hand sanitizer (in addition to soap and lotion). Unfortunately I didn’t get in there to take a picture. But, oh, the mode errors!

I was struck by the presumed need for this sign in a different bathroom, explaining what locked and unlocked look like. I had this quick “well that’s dumb” reaction, took the picture, used the facility, and then upon exiting realized that I had failed to lock the door! I’m not sure exactly how I managed to not lock it, since that is another automatic behavior.

In both cases, the signs themselves caught my attention, but I still exhibited the behavior they were trying to prevent (taking lotion instead of soap, leaving the door unlocked).

See also Signs To Override Human Nature, previously.

Wipe out

Many years ago we worked with a client who wanted to help people with “out-of-home personal cleansing.” It was surprising in our interviews to learn that some people worried about the germs left behind on a shopping cart handle. Then last year at a high-end grocery store in Tucson I saw this:
A dispenser for cart wipes. Finally a product that addresses the anxiety, if not removing it.

[Recently some students in our Design Research class at CCA came up with some stats around this same issue that I can’t remember, but they were disturbing/gross – the handle was the dirtiest item we’d touch in a typical week??]

Last week I was in my local Safeway and saw this pathetic effort:
Safeway has shifted the problem definition, allowing you to clean your hands instead of the cart? If the cart is dirty, what do you get out of cleaning your hands before you shop? Maybe a hand wipe on the way out, after you return your cart? But still, if the cart is (seen as) dirty, then clean the cart.

They’ve put it right in the entranceway in a location that is filled with other things that people need to access (drinking fountains, DVD vending machine, bubble gum, hallway to restroom). And really, the whole thing is poorly executed: it’s all about the poster; with little focus on the thing you need to grab – the wrong-sized wipe dispenser and then it’s finished off with the inappropriate, ugly, exposed garbage bin.

Maybe it was a prototype to see how people used it, but I think they’ve created something so pathetic and so much about failure (theirs, and your own) that the results wouldn’t be worth too much to me.

Take One We Value Your Comments

These feedback forms in the SFO Long Term Parking bus shelter are always empty. Someone has written Ha Ha Ha as a sarcastic bit of feedback, presumably about the implied hypocrisy of an unmaintained feedback mechanism.

There’s a phone number (that would ideally be covered by feedback forms) that you can call from a telephone (if you’re carrying one) or a courtesy phone (once you get into the airport itself, a 10 minute drive away), for parking information. Parking information? You’ve already parked, if you’re seeing this. The sticker is out of sync with the feedback form holding function.


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