When we talk of UX, do you start thinking of UI (user interface)—of websites, apps and other frustrating pieces of software? Well, there’s more than that. A lot more.
Another way of describing good UX is the term ‘human-centred design’. And while the best way of designing something for humans is to build prototypes and test and refine them—based on observing real humans using your product—you can achieve a lot just by trying to actively think about the humans who will be using your end product.
And, there’s a great deal of established ‘best practice’ that saves you having to make your own mistakes.
Here are 2 examples that completely ignore all of this.
Here’s a simple question: Who uses carparks?
Skateboarders? Well, yes, but I wouldn’t say they are the primary audience.
People in cars?
If only carpark designers asked themselves this question.
The carpark at my local pub was designed by sadists. I’m sure of it.
Why else would you build:
- Various dividing walls (that really just separate one arbitrary part of the car park with another) that are about 1 metre high—just the height where they are out of your field of vision when you’re sitting in a car. Great for sideswiping or backing into. They’re covered in scars where people have nailed their cars. And did I mention that they are completely arbitrary—aesthetic at best?
- Lanes that are too narrow for 2 cars to pass when there’s a corner, so that you have to swing out into the oncoming lane to actually make it around without hitting the sneaky little wall hiding on the inside. (And I have a small car—a Volkswagen Golf.)
- Hard curbs, you know the ones formed at 90 degrees, perfect for gouging the crap out of your wheels. In some places, they’ve added these below the random dividing walls, so that even if you adjust your mirror to see and avoid the wall, you can still scrape your wheels where the curb juts out below the wall.
- At the entrance/exit, on top of the nasty little walls that form the edges of a garden bed, they’ve planted tall plants, which have now grown to obscure oncoming traffic when you’re trying to pull out, which if you want to turn left, requires you to go into the oncoming lane to avoid the wall. Oh, the FUBARs that result as people creep out slowly then realise there’s something coming and have to back in again, while avoiding the wall they can’t see—and the other traumatised carpark users who are now behind them (also trying to leave), having decided that it’s going to be easier to park 3km away and walk.
Garage sale signs
Look, I realise these people aren’t professional sign designers, but didn’t anyone stop to think why they were making a sign, and who it was for?
Here’s a guess:
- Purpose—To alert people that you’re having a garage sale, and tell them where it is.
- Audience—People sitting (possibly driving) in a car travelling at 60km/h.
If you’re not going to make a bigger sign, with bigger text and fewer words, you may as well not put one up at all.
Your sign may say:
Massive GARAGE SALE: beds, books, tables, chairs, weird 70s knickknacks and a whole heap of other nasty shit that no-one will ever want to buy. Come on down to 73 Fragglebeard Terrace; take next left at Reallylongplacename Road!
But all people will see is:
And then they will continue their conversation:
You know, Daryl, what would really make our home complete? Weird 70s Knickknacks! You know, those things made out of bubbly glass the colour of nicotine stains? You just can’t find that stuff anymore!