30 July 2006

Liz, Dan and Interaction Design

I just read Liz Danzico’s interview with Dan Saffer. I have a lot of respect for Dan and his work. We have had conversations on line, but I have never met Dan. Maybe I will be lucky enough to cross his path at a conference sometime soon.

I agree with Dan’s take on a lot of things, but there is one small item in this interview that I take exception with. Dan represents the ATM has having one of the most beneficial interfaces on the planet. I think the ATM interface, particularly if you include the versions at the grocery and department stores, as one of the largest opportunities for improvement in interface design.

The switching from hardware operators to software buttons… from the keypad to the right hand buttons… they confuse many users after some twenty years in existence. Every time I go to a new bank or make a purchase at a different store I have to relearn the rules. It is even to the point where most have to be prompted by the cashier or we find little notes on the control pad. It reminds me very much of my first computer – with documentation that said “press Enter” though the key was labeled “return.” How was I to know?

The convenience of remote banking transactions and 24/7 availability is awesome and has made bank transactions immeasurably more useful. But as an example of excellence in interaction… I hardly think so.

I am very much looking forward to reading Dan’s new book.