Posts tagged “queue”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Getting in (and Out of) Line [] – [What are the economic behaviors – and motivators – of waiting in line, and how is the pursuit of the money shifting those standards?] A line conceives of people as citizens, presumed equal, each with an identical 24 hours a day to spread among the lines around them. A market conceives of people as consumers, presumed unequal, with those who can pay in front of the others. It allocates efficiently, but it eliminates a feature of line culture: the idea that, in line at least, we are no better than anybody else. In a way, the market’s spread is a return to another kind of scrum, one in which financial, and not physical, might means right. Perhaps one day lines will be remembered as antique, a quaint system in which things were granted simply for having shown up early, an interlude of relative equality between the scrums that reigned before and after. [Thanks, Anne!]
  • [from steve_portigal] Diary of a ‘portable people meter’ person [SF Chronicle] – [What it's like to be a human subject for gathering radio station data] "I was a good panelist," she said. "I wore the meter all the time and followed the instructions. I didn't find it that intrusive. But I wouldn't take it to some occasions, like out to dinner, and they want you to wear it all day, from the time you wake up until you go to bed, and to wear it on your person. You can't just leave it in your purse. And they pick up on it. They'll call you the next day or night and say, 'Hey, you weren't wearing it for 15 minutes yesterday.' "

Leading with Error Recovery

JetBlue counter, Sea-Tac airport

This sign directs JetBlue customers to a counter based on their specific situation. The first item listed is Kiosk “Oops” Messages. JetBlue is bold enough to acknowledge that things aren’t always going to work perfectly and they’ve made the path to error recovery prominent. This is good customer service, and it’s good design: allow for – and acknowledge that you are allowing for – failures, and reframe them positively.

The casual expert

The NYT has a story about self-selecting airport security lines.

…a black diamond line for expert travelers, defined as those who fly more than twice a month and are skilled at security procedures, always ready with items removed; a blue square for casual travelers, who are familiar with the screening process; and a green circle for families and those needing assistance or more time.

I think this is an exciting idea, although it doesn’t appear to be working perfectly. It seems that people are overestimating their own expert-ness (or perhaps fudging their self-analysis in favor of a perceived “express line”) although families feel relief from the pressure of other travelers.

This seems like a classic web design problem, with different types of users (who have very different abilities, needs, and expectations) coming in the same front door. And when there’s a choice, people will obviously act in their own perceived self-interest.

I think separating “normal” from “expert” is going to be a tough thing to figure out in any situation; unless “expert” carries with it an intimidation factor, I suspect most people will escalate their capability. Otherwise “normal” starts shifting to “stupid.”

Again, an interesting approach to a problem, and as with most prototyping efforts, lots of learning about how the proposed solution is and isn’t working, yet.

Kiosks, technology, and culture

Yet another article that mocks the introduction of an automated technology. In this case, it’s a self-serve postal kiosk in San Francisco. Several silly examples in the story where people struggle to figure out how to use it, taking longer than the line for a real person, where the machine asks for lots and lots of extra info (since it has no a priori context like a human might), and so on.

Some themes that we now know

  1. Lots and lots of stuff is badly designed
  2. Many people can’t easily become quick at interacting with a new computer system
  3. Some tasks are more appropriate for a kiosk than others.
  4. Lack of context in an automated system and the resultant work the system (and thus the user) must do in order to establish that context reads as silly, funny, frustrating, and unacceptable

It’s impossible from these stories to tell, of course, what’s really going on. Me, I love self-check even if I have to fight it, even if I have to bend my natural tendencies to work the way it wants me to work. Maybe it’s being an introvert, or a bit of a technology geek, or curious, or just the idea that there’s a scam to be had by being savvy and checking out automatically rather than the usual way.


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