Travelling to work each day I leave at the same time, walk to the station the same route, stand at the same spot on the platform and the same spot on the same carriage. I like to stand on the train, it’s only a short trip. All of which I do without really thinking about it… talented eh!?
The train looks identical, same exterior, interior and that same stale smell of urine which only comes with a travelling toilet. Seeing similar faces daily of people trying to avoid eye contact, reading newspapers and staring at their phones. I love to people watch!
As you can tell my journey is one of consistency, I know what to expect and I’m very much on autopilot, makes it easy.
As my stop approaches I’m standing with my back to the buttons because it’s overcrowded and find it more comfortable than pressing my face against the glass. I think I know that the Open button is the top one, I put my hand on it. Train comes to a halt. People looking at me to let them press the button or for me to do it. I’ve got this. Pressing the button, nothing happens. Fellow commuters getting a little annoyed, me flustered. Then after a bit of panic I realise the Open button, on this train, is the bottom one! Usually, as in 90% of the time I find the Open button to be the top one! I should point out that isn’t an exact figure and maths never has been a strong point of mine.
I know this is a minor point and a slightly exaggerated experience but if I expect a button to be in one place but it’s actually in a different location that surmounts to be a bad user experience to me.
Speaking of journeys; if you’ve ever had a stroll around a park with a perfectly good path underfoot, on occasion you may have noticed a new path beaten into the grass. A path that has been trodden into submission, forged from the feet of people wanting to go exactly where you want to go but faster. It isn’t as scenic but it’s shorter, it’s direct and it’s quicker. You’re probably thinking I have too much time on my hands, I don’t, I’m probably just very boring and notice the silly things in life.
Everyone’s journey to the same destination will not always be the same and what suits them one day may not the next. Some may want to take their time, smell the flowers, enjoy the atmosphere and others want to do what they came to do, getting out of there as quickly as possible.
Creating clearly sign-posted multiple journeys to where you want to go is essential, getting there directly or by browsing is a lot better than a dead end. Consistency is important especially when it comes to buttons, as you’ve read it can be a frustrating experience if they’re not where you expect them to be.
UX lessons can be learned from everyday life. It’s just about taking notice and being aware of the little things.
By Crawford Jolly, Senior Designer