‘Rising Chair’ by Robert van Embricqs at the Geffrye Museum, London

Emma and I went to the Geffrye museum near Shoreditch over the weekend and saw a great exhibit on “useful and beautiful contemporary objects for the home.” There was one chair in particular that caught our attention, the Rising Chair by Robert van Embricqs. We both loved the way it folded up flat for storage and then expanded out into a pretty comfortable and very nice looking wooden chair.

See the rising chair in action on YouTube

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Sainsbury’s self-service checkout is aware but not helpful

I was buying a few things from a Sainsburys local at lunch time. I used the self service checkout stand and scanned my items in. I then “used the touch screen to complete my purchase” as the voice said out loud to me. I inserted my card but didn’t press the “debit/credit card” button. I got an error: “please press the card button”. Clearly the machine is aware that I’ve inserted my card because it’s giving me an error message. The question is, what does it need to give me an error? When it detects that I’ve inserted my card, it should jump to the card payment option automatically and allow me to enter my PIN. There are unneeded steps in this process.

Design experiments with a photocopier

As part of a project for my Graphic Design Foundations Short Course at University of Arts London I experimented with photocopier features. I had a lot of fun designing my Book Cover project and realised how much creative flexibility photocopiers give you.

For instance, there are some pretty cool effects you can get by moving the paper around on the screen while the photocopier is scanning. I was making a ghosty book cover so attempted to get a haunting effect by following the scanner bar as it moved across the screen. The result was pretty cool!

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Simplicity of Paris’ #5 Metro Train Map

When we were in Paris last week, it was nice to see such a simple and usable map onboard the #5 metro line. It tells you exactly what you need to know and gives good visibility and feedback to the user:

  1. The next stop blinks – in this case it’s “Richard-Lenoir”
  2. Illuminated dots indicate stations coming up
  3. Stations visited are disabled
  4. Closed stations are also disabled like “Oberkampf”
  5. Underneath,  a Circular “M” indicates which Metro lines you can change to or “RER” for other train services

Simple and effective.

More feedback while on the Tube

Although the London tube map is easy to read, it had something to learn in terms of feedback to the user. On the Paris Metro, I found the “blinking light” indicating the next stop an especially useful feature.

Feedback is about sending back information about what action has been done and what has been accomplished, allowing the person to continue with the activity. 

From Don Normans’ Design Principles

 

Affordance of Woodside Library’s Card Scanner

Affordance

At a very simple level, to afford means to give a clue (Norman, 1988). When the affordances of a physical object are perceptually obvious it is easy to know how to interact with it.

Don Normans’ Design Principles

The library card scanner in the San Mateo County Library in Woodside, CA where my parents have moved to, is a good example of Don Normans design principle of Affordance. It guides the user on how to operate the scanner by showing an image of the library card and exactly where to hold it so it scans.

Great idea!

Jamba Juices’ fast and simple rewards program signup

When I was visiting my parents in San Francisco last month, I was impressed by the signup process for Jamba Juices’ rewards program. It is by far the simplest and fastest rewards “card” I’ve ever signed for.

Let me rewind for a minute and first describe my qualms with rewards cards.

Problems with rewards cards

1. Rewards cards are painful to signup for

Carrying around the cards themselves is painful as they bulk up my wallet, the magnetic strip wears out (especially for the Shell drivers club card) but those pale in comparison to remembering to signup for the card when I get home. The last thing that pops into my head is “I need to complete my rewards card application.” Even if I do remember, the signup process is often so long that I avoid doing it.

2. It’s easy to forget cards

Forgetting my card is similarly annoying to forgetting to signup for it in the first place. Except, now I’ve got past the first hurdle of signing up and more annoyed that I didn’t bring the bloody thing with me. There’s not much the shop will do except to remind me to keep my receipt and bring it in next time, which I often get at Boots. That’s very unlikely to happen…

3. I have too many cards

When I do remember to add my card to the ever growing collection in my wallet, I’m often faced with being given even more cards. A good example of this at at Sainsburys with my Nectar card. They give me “temporary cards” in the form of paper vouchers which I need to bring with me the next time I shop. Not only is that annoying for me when I forget to bring a £5.27 off my next shop voucher but it’s also very wasteful. I throw away 90% of the paper vouchers I’m given by Sainsburys. Why not digitise these? Then I won’t have to carry the bulk in my wallet or risk forgetting them!

So, that brings me back to Jamba Juice.

Jamba Juices’ Fast and Simple Rewards “Card”

Jamba juice solved all these problems by digitising their rewards card. It’s an amazingly simple process:

  1. Enter your phone number in the shop
  2. Activate your account online
  3. Get $3 off your next smoothie and earn points going forward

Jamba Juice rewards signup

I was surprised at how fast this was to do, I was expecting another physical card I needed to carry around and activate when I got home. There is an activation step but I’m motivated to complete it because I get $3 off your next smoothie.

With a fast and simple system, there are always tradeoffs and risks:

  1. Remembering you phone number – with smartphones, there’s no need to memorise your phone number anymore
  2. Errors and Typos – what if you accidentally mistype and use someone else’s phone number? There’s no way of knowing
  3. Hassle of changing numbers – if you switch your phone number, you need to remember to call customer support and move your account

The tradeoffs could definitely happen and should be accounted for in the design but for me, the simplicity and usability of Jamba’s rewards system outweighs the risks. I’ve signed up and will use it every time I’m back in California enjoying my favourite smoothie, The Orange Berry Blitz.