Tag Archives | interaction design

interactions in your environment

During a presentation on user-centered design at my place of employment last week, I found myself gripped by one concept that I had not previously considered in detail when thinking about interactions:  ENVIRONMENT.  Steve Kuhn, our effervescent speaker, gave a few examples of how environment is a crucial part of creating products for your users.  For example, will the user be interrupted frequently, will they be in a hurry, is their environment safe?

Since I am a fan of mass transit interactions, I brought these ideas with me as I got a new MetroCard in NYC this past weekend.  I am already comfortable with the interface, so it’s easy for me to fly right through it.  However, it’s pretty easy for most people, I would think, because the interface is broken into manageable pieces and involves simple, clear instructions and graphics. 

More importantly, the subway is often populated with people from all over the country and the world who are unfamiliar with their surroundings, so the interaction needs to be easy.  These users may also feel a little unsafe or out of sorts in this new and foreign environment.  They seem to catch on quickly, so that must be a good sign.

Next on deck: Automatic Teller Machines, so close, yet so far away…

Posted on April 9, 2007 in design 0

interfaces are everywhere

I have been traveling more than usual lately, and by doing so interacting with many different interfaces with regards to printing tickets, finding transportation, etc.  The catalyst for this post happened when I was printing out my airline ticket at Boston’s Logan Airport earlier this week.  I had a confirmation number and I needed to use a touchscreen to enter in the number.  Using my index finger, I started tapping at the screen, but something didn’t feel right.  It was really hard to find the letters I was looking for.  And then I realized that this was because the letters were displayed in a QWERTY keyboard format. 

It seemed very unnatural for me to use one finger to find the letters in that type of format, which was designed to be used with 2 hands, and ideally without even setting eyes on the keyboard.  I think part of this realization was based on the fact that during the last 2 days, I was pecking away on my cellphone keys with my thumb, sending text messages to friends.  The keyboard on a phone is set up in alphabetical order, which is logically, much easier to deal with when using one finger.

My good friends over at Amtrak also use a confirmation number system to print out tickets at the station.  However, their confirmation numbers contain a limited number of letters, so when it comes time to enter in your info, you are presented with a screen of numbers 0-9 and the 6 or so possible letters.  If you’re anything like me, usually you need to bust a move on these machines to catch the train, and the faster/easier the experience, the better.

Finally, back at the Philadelphia Airport*,  I was happy to see how easy it was to access mass transit via the terminal.  If you are following the signs to exit, you have no choice but to pass the clearly marked stairwell to the well-lit train platform.  Pleasantly surprised, indeed, but I still took a cab.  Anyway, they have an LCD screen at the top of the stairwell that indicates what time the trains run — which is :12 and :42 after the hour.  Great!  That makes sense to me, but, hmm… well.. what time is it now?  Sure, I could check my phone or find another source of time, but it seems to me like displaying the current time in the LCD screen along with the train times would be trĂ©s helpful.

In the meanwhile, I am going to start taking pictures of more of these interactions so you know what I am talking about.

* If you visit the Philadelphia Airport website, it makes Philadelphia look like Miami. Or Hawaii.  I am curious to know who’s in that white limo.

Posted on March 30, 2007 in design 2