Posts tagged “remote control”

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

Forced Engagement

Like Adam Richardson, I’m fed up with “Indentured Advertude.” Shortly after his post appeared, I returned to my Orlando hotel room and found that housekeeping had left my TV remote like this:

In order to get to the controls, I have to remove it from the sleeve. Like other forcing functions I’ve written about it creates some mindfulness that drives a desired behavior; in this case it’s not in my interest at all. You must engage with this ad before you can perform another task. The service being advertised has no connection to watching TV or using the remote; it’s just there to get in your way.

Learned Behavio(u)r

One of the fun yet challenging aspects of spending two weeks in another country was stumbling over all the little things that I know how to do back home but didn’t work. I paid for a snack using pocket change, and eventually had to hold the pile of coins out to the counter dude so he could take the right amount. The coins say their value, in English, but in order to complete a transaction in the normal amount of time, you have to be familiar. It was an interesting feeling, to be such a foreigner.

At another point, I was riding the DLR (train) with my Oyster (smart card). A conductor comes along to swipe the card and there’s a small interaction where the passenger holds out the card and the conductor holds out the wand (yes, it was a wand, not the usual credit-card-swipey-slot thing). I wanted to put my card on top of his wand, but he wanted to put his wand on top of my card. I was just supposed to know the gesture. Sounds like a bit of a dominance issues, actually.

In using the self-check at Tesco (a grocery store), I realized the software was the same as what I’ve seen here at Home Depot, etc. but when it came time to pay, the voice prompt told me to insert my card into the chippenpin device. Turns out this was Chip-and-PIN, where credit cards and/or ATM cards have extra security via an embedded chip, and an associated PIN. These readers use a different swipe gesture, with the card going in the bottom of the keypad. Anyway, I stood there with my non-chipped credit card, putting it in and out of this bottom slot, to no avail. After I surrendered and paid cash, I realized there was the familiar vertical swipe slot along the bezel of the monitor, a different piece of hardware than the chippenpin.

And this one was subtle but confounding:
This is the TV remote from my Paris hotel room but the London hotel had a similar issue. In my experience, the red power button turns the TV on and turns the TV off. But in both these hotel rooms (and maybe this was a hotel issue more than a Euro issue) the way to turn it was to press the channel buttons. Enter a channel and the TV would go on and display that channel. The power button was actually on “off” button. You can imagine me sitting in front of the TV with a remote and trying to turn it on, in vain, until frustrated random button press gave me the result I wanted.

I often look around at local transit and marvel at how much the cues and other information in those systems are designed for people who already know how to use them; but I was able to plan for and learn about transit enough to be come a fairly comfortable user. It was these small interactions without cues, and under time pressure, where I found myself bemusedly incompetent.


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