Design with the Customer in Mind: A Matter of Positioning


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I had to drop by my favorite office supply store last week to snatch up a few ‘back to school bargains.’  Spiral bond notepads fifteen cents each, composition notebooks ten cents each, and 500 sheets of printer paper 25 cents.  Great deals, easy to find in the perfect sized store whose employees were eager to please.  
Within seconds of asking for help locating the replacement media reader for my Sony Cybershot, I had what I needed in hand and was heading toward the registers.  The Cashier was friendly, and inquired whether I’d found everything.  Of course I had found what I needed, and then some!  I was using a Rebate Credit Card I’d received as a result of purchasing a printer last spring, to pay for my loot.  I wondered if the alternative form a payment might complicate the transaction, however, it was seamless. 
Because it was a credit card type transaction, I needed to add my signature to the LCD device next to the register displaying the total of my transaction.  The screen contained few words however, it was quickly noticeable that the words displayed on the LCD were out of sequence with the actions requested. 
LCD Device Screen The first action requested that I indicate to the device if I was Done or wanted to Clear the transaction.  However as I read further I realized I needed to sign the screen before selecting Done or Clear.   If I need to sign the screen prior to pressing Done or Clear, why not position the Done and Clear buttons below the signature box?  I wondered how many customers attempt to press Done or Clear before signing?  And if so, does that require the transaction be re-entered? 
Then I noticed the display was telling me to hand my card to the Cashier.  Hmmm, at the start of the transaction I had handed my card to the Cashier.  I thought that was how we got to this point in the transaction.  Why is the screen telling me to hand my card to the cashier now?  Is there a different card I need to hand her?  I was quickly reassured that I didn’t need to provide any other card in order to complete my transaction.  
In this situation, the office supply giant’s efforts to deliver a positive overall customer shopping experience were evident.  However, the interface design mismatch is quite obvious and could have easily been avoided by obtaining even a minimal amount of customer feedback during the design phase of the project. 
The benefits of obtaining customer feedback, especially during the design phase of a project, are generally far greater than the cost of finding out post- implementation your design isn’t in synch with your customers thinking.   If your staff needs some direction developing or executing an effective approach to obtain customer feedback, there are plenty of interaction designers and usability specialists willing to work with you who can easily gather the answers to validate your design decisions.  Business case after business case have shown that done right, even a small investment in obtaining customer feedback, especially early in the design process, yields hefty ROI and your efforts can too.  

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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