Observation - Public Interactive Technology

"A good design is the communication between the designer and the user, and the communication is reflected on the product." - Design of Everyday Things

If talking about a person who has the great impact on my design thinking, it would definitely be Donald A. Norman. His books Design Of EveryDay Things, Emotional Design, and The Design of Future Things are among my favorite books . Since I first read them 3 years ago, I had read them again and again in different steps of my design life. And every time I read them, I can learn something new, which is very instructive.

In this blog, I would talk about ATMs, one of the very common public interactive technology, according to Norman's design thinking.

"How things work come from their visible structure - in particular from affordances, constraints, and mappings." - Design of Everyday Things

The ATMs of Chase Bank in US is one of the good ATMs designs in my opinion. Although it still has some confusing part which I will demonstrate later, it has an affordable visible structure.

It has a big interactive screen and other physical operation part for ATM card, cas, receipt and digital keyboard. Each physical operation part is easy to recognize its usage. For the part to insert ATM card and the part to get the receipt, which both have a slender opening and might be confusing, they are put different in direction. And during the processing, there is a light glittering besides the part which is active. The light give users a clear and real-time instruction.

The ATMs in china don't have the instruction lights yet, what they do to navigate users is using tags which are stuck to the surface. As time goes by, the tags are easy to damaged and no instruction is left ( as the following photo on the right shows). Also during the processing, users have to look through every tags to find the right part, which means the instruction is not real-time.

In addition, the Chase Bank ATMs give appropriate constraints in each step. Take the withdraw money process as an example. After users chose the certain amount of money they want to take, the interface of the ATM shows a three-steps navigation.

In each step, users can only do one operation, and only after each step is finished, users are able to do the next operation. In this way, users won't get confused about what to do first and next and also solve a very important and common question, that many users forget their ATM card in the ATMs after they get their money or receipt. Compared to playing a record telling users to take their cards when they leave in China, this is a more effective and user-friendly way.

"Negative affect can make it harder to do even easy tasks: positive affect can make it easier to do difficult tasks." - Emotional Design

When using ATMs, especially for the beginners using ATMs in a public place without any shelter, many people feel nervous to different extent. People feel nervous due to lack of sense of security, and the complexity and unexpected feedback of operation make users more nervous. I drew a diagram to illustrate how users emotion changes impact users' operation and use time.

Therefore, the more user get into trouble, the more time they will take to finish their tasks and vice versa. And the following lists three problems users face when using the Chase Bank ATMs.

  • The direction to insert the ATM card is unclear.

  • There is no clear feedback when users log out their account.

  • Users don't understand whether the "back" button means back to the last page or log out.

I think all of these three problems can be solved without too much effort but can improve the user experience. I have read a post called The History Of ATM Design Is Crazy, which states about the history of ATMs development. Although nowadays with the development and widely use of mobile banking service, in my opinion, ATMs will still be widely used in public when dealing with cash. And as the generation of computers and Internet grow up, who become the major users of ATMs, it's worthwhile for us to think about how can we redesign the ATMs and improve the way of interaction.

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