Thursday, August 12, 2010

Design principle: don't break the stream of the user unless you mean it

Design principles are often most noticeable when they are violated. You may personally experience frustration as the result of design flaws, and/or on a larger scale you may notice that nobody follows the design.

This came to my mind as I exited a bathroom of a coffee shop in Portland after washing my hands. On the door hangs a sign telling me to use a paper towel to turn off the water.

Uh, too little, too late!

It also tells me to use a paper towel to open the door as I leave. Now, I could either go back to the paper towel dispenser or I could do what I normally do--use my foot or elbow or try to touch the door where nobody else has. Based on the wear and tear around the door handle this is what other people have done, too.

Lastly, it tells me to throw out the paper towel in the trash can. Only problem is, there's no trash can anywhere nearby. That there are no paper towels on the ground therefore suggests that nobody bothers to get them in the first place.

They apparently want the bathroom users to get a paper towel to turn on the water, then go get another one to turn off the water, then another to open the door, then go back in to throw it out. Then another to leave after throwing the first one out. But then go back in to throw the second one out. But then another to leave again...maybe they don't want anyone to leave.

At least, that would explain why there were 37 very confused people in the bathroom spinning around in circles...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:NE Holladay St,Portland,United States

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