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…