Lead Balloon

Usability Rant
December 13, 2007, 9:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

My hubby is a Usability Analyst. His company tests things – all sorts of things – to see if they are usable to the typical end user. Mostly, they test the navigability and usability of Web site and Web site applications, but they also test things like home printers and the instructions that come with them for installation. Do they make sense? Can a grandma do it? They test cell phones, calculators, everything.

I’ve been doing usability testing in my own career for the past six or seven years. But it wasn’t until Todd joined the usability ranks that I started to really see the design flaws of everyday tools and objects. Today, while I was puchasing some ink cartridges at OfficeMax, I realized just how confusing some of the credit card processing machines are at the checkout counters of retail places. It’s not so much that they’re confusing or difficult to use, it’s that they’re all completely different from one another. You go to the grocery store and you have to swipe, sign, and “accept”. You go somewhere else and you have to swipe, “accept” the amount, then sign, then hit “ok”. On some, you hit the green button, on others the cashier wants you to wait and hit the yellow button when they’re done doing their thing. Then there are those that say “please hand your card to the cashier”, but that cashier never asks you for your card. But the WORST ones are those that, once you swipe your “credit” card it automatically defaults to a debit screen and prompts you to enter your PIN, even though you want to use “credit”. Instead of a “CREDIT” button you are supposed to hit “CANCEL”, or in some cases, just “ENTER” in order to process it as a credit card and not a debit card. That’s just completely confusing. Why would anyone use the word “CANCEL” as a way to move from debit to credit? “CANCEL” means it’s the end of the transaction! It means, “NO! I JUST REALIZED I DON’T NEED THOSE SANTA SLIPPERS!!! CANCEL!!! ABORT! ABORT!” It’s crazy.

Most of the time, I find myself hitting the opposite of the “accept” button because it’s green or it’s on the right hand side where the “accept” button is supposed to be. I’m usually in a hurry – but this just jacks up the whole check out process. The cashier gets frustated with ME, I get frustrated with the machine, then the ten people in line behind me hate me and want to run over me with their cars out in the parking lot.

I don’t get why they can’t all just be the same. And before they streamline them and make them the same in all places, they need to test those bad boys. Don’t even get me started on the little “signature” area which doesn’t really record your signature at all. I’ve started signing it “Britney Spears”, “Forrest Gump”, or “Rebecca De Mornay” and such, just because I can and it doesn’t mean a damned thing that I, Lauri Luckey, am “approving” the transaction there on that machine and with that card.


2 Comments so far
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Hey, were the Santa slippers for me?

Comment by Big Sis

I don’t sign my name either, just a bunch of squiggly lines.

Comment by allison

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