Primary interface

24 Oct 2006 - 6:32pm
7 years ago
11 replies
479 reads
jbellis
2005

I went to Home Depot and used their ACM (? automated cashier machine) as
follows:
1. I walked up to it and scanned my merchandise. (I noticed it was in the
proper initial state. I ignored the prompt to choose a language.)
2. I put in adequate cash (ignoring the button that prompted me to tell it
"Finish and Pay").
3. It (she, if you care, at least voicewise) gave me change and a receipt,
which I took along with my merchandise as I walked away.

I call that the primary interface. If there's a better name, just say so.

The next day I went to the grocery market, and being some sort of a caveman,
I expected to use their ACM with exactly the same mental model. Seriously...
it wasn't an experiment... I actually thought I could. Maybe someone
replaced our office coffee with decaf. In retrospect, it's inexplicable.

Anyway, as you might guess, I didn't get very far. It has unavoidable
prompts to start, finish, defer coupons, choose payment method, and a paper
cheat sheet posted to the monitor with produce/salad bar codes for those who
can't figure out how to look them up.

My questions:
Do users have a right to expect the primary interface to work at all
bar-code-based ACMs?
Will the the primary interface eventually work at all ACMs, or should I go
back to drawing on my walls with mastadon blood?
-Jack
www.workathomewednesday.com

Comments

24 Oct 2006 - 6:56pm
cfmdesigns
2004

>From: jackbellis <jackbellis at hotmail.com>
>
>My questions:
>Do users have a right to expect the primary interface to work at all
>bar-code-based ACMs?
>Will the the primary interface eventually work at all ACMs, or should I go
>back to drawing on my walls with mastadon blood?

These are scheduled to happen the week after primary interface unification occurs on bank ATMs.

(My current favorite: the credit union one here at work, where you enter your PIN on the keypad, but then must use the "Done" button next to the screen rather than the Enter button on the keypad. Rrrrrrrr.)

-- Jim

24 Oct 2006 - 9:06pm
Bernie Monette
2005

>> From: jackbellis <jackbellis at hotmail.com>
>>
>> My questions:
>> Do users have a right to expect the primary interface to work at all
>> bar-code-based ACMs?
>> Will the the primary interface eventually work at all ACMs, or should I go
>> back to drawing on my walls with mastadon blood?
>
> These are scheduled to happen the week after primary interface unification
> occurs on bank ATMs.
>
> (My current favorite: the credit union one here at work, where you enter your
> PIN on the keypad, but then must use the "Done" button next to the screen
> rather than the Enter button on the keypad. Rrrrrrrr.)
>
> -- Jim
The funny thing about these self checkouts is that they were planned to make
the lines go faster-instead they tend to attract fussier people who go
through everything painstakingly slow: double checking everything.

In my case-I used the primary interface only to have a very nice lady show
up and then verify my payment. I wondered why she couldn't do the checkout
as well.

Cheers,

Bernie

--
Bernie Monette
InterActive Arts
Internet Presence Management
http://www.iaai.ca monette at iaai.ca 416 469 4337

25 Oct 2006 - 3:57am
Richard Czerwonka
2005

On 24 Oct 2006 at 22:06, Bernie Monette wrote:

> The funny thing about these self checkouts is that they were planned
> to make the lines go faster-instead they tend to attract fussier
> people who go through everything painstakingly slow: double checking
> everything.

I thought they were designed to replace a human checkout operator, thereby saving
thousands in wages, benefits etc. I don't think it has anything at all to do with making
things easier for the customer (in practice they probably make things worse). It's all
about making more profits for the shareholders.

=================
Richard Czerwonka,
Delphi Programmer
ENT Technologies
Mob: 0412 104 042
=================

25 Oct 2006 - 4:17am
maglez@btintern...
2006

Well Richard, if it is not easy to use by the final user, then the final user won't uses it, then
lot of wasted money on equipment that no one uses so no benefits.

On the first few months the company may see benefits because they don't pay out for those workers,
a bit later they will see no benefits because no one uses the machines so the customer will go
somewhere else. I am starting to see around here in London, those machines with a store's plastic
bag on the screen, the store managers are starting to stop using those machines because they do
not seen to be a good thing.

I only used them once, I like technology so I am very prone to use new machines, so I used once
almost a year ago, the experience was so bad that I haven't used them again.

Making a system no easy to use for the final user can be a successful business if and only if the
user has not any other option. If the user has another option, he or she may choose that other
option. Obviously, there are many factors that a customer will consider in this case, like the
prices.

--- "Richard (ENT Technologies)" <richard at enttech.com.au> wrote:
> I thought they were designed to replace a human checkout operator, thereby saving
> thousands in wages, benefits etc. I don't think it has anything at all to do with making
> things easier for the customer (in practice they probably make things worse). It's all
> about making more profits for the shareholders.
>
>
> =================
> Richard Czerwonka,
> Delphi Programmer
> ENT Technologies
> Mob: 0412 104 042
> =================
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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25 Oct 2006 - 4:22am
maglez@btintern...
2006

Well Richard, if it is not easy to use by the final user, then the final user won't uses it, then
lot of wasted money on equipment that no one uses so no benefits.

On the first few months the company may see benefits because they don't pay out for those workers,
a bit later they will see no benefits because no one uses the machines so the customer will go
somewhere else. I am starting to see around here in London, those machines with a store's plastic
bag on the screen, the store managers are starting to stop using those machines because they do
not seen to be a good thing.

I only used them once, I like technology so I am very prone to use new machines, so I used once
almost a year ago, the experience was so bad that I haven't used them again.

Making a system no easy to use for the final user can be a successful business if and only if the
user has not any other option. If the user has another option, he or she may choose that other
option. Obviously, there are many factors that a customer will consider in this case, like the
prices.

--- "Richard (ENT Technologies)" <richard at enttech.com.au> wrote:
> I thought they were designed to replace a human checkout operator, thereby saving
> thousands in wages, benefits etc. I don't think it has anything at all to do with making
> things easier for the customer (in practice they probably make things worse). It's all
> about making more profits for the shareholders.
>
>
> =================
> Richard Czerwonka,
> Delphi Programmer
> ENT Technologies
> Mob: 0412 104 042
> =================
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

25 Oct 2006 - 4:23am
maglez@btintern...
2006

Well Richard, if it is not easy to use by the final user, then the final user won't uses it, then
lot of wasted money on equipment that no one uses so no benefits.

On the first few months the company may see benefits because they don't pay out for those workers,
a bit later they will see no benefits because no one uses the machines so the customer will go
somewhere else. I am starting to see around here in London, those machines with a store's plastic
bag on the screen, the store managers are starting to stop using those machines because they do
not seen to be a good thing.

I only used them once, I like technology so I am very prone to use new machines, so I used once
almost a year ago, the experience was so bad that I haven't used them again.

Making a system no easy to use for the final user can be a successful business if and only if the
user has not any other option. If the user has another option, he or she may choose that other
option. Obviously, there are many factors that a customer will consider in this case, like the
prices.

--- "Richard (ENT Technologies)" <richard at enttech.com.au> wrote:
> I thought they were designed to replace a human checkout operator, thereby saving
> thousands in wages, benefits etc. I don't think it has anything at all to do with making
> things easier for the customer (in practice they probably make things worse). It's all
> about making more profits for the shareholders.
>
>
> =================
> Richard Czerwonka,
> Delphi Programmer
> ENT Technologies
> Mob: 0412 104 042
> =================
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

25 Oct 2006 - 6:52am
Joel Eden
2006

Last year I taught an undergraduate HCI course, where student project teams
carried out user research and paper prototyping of design ideas; one of the
groups had an idea for making checkout easier at supermarkets, based on
putting RFID-like tags on all products so that the customer could just walk
out and the transaction would occur automatically.

Well of course after doing some user research, they learned a lot about the
implications of their design ideas. They observed and asked questions of
people using some of these self checkout systems at supermarkets, and got
some great info.

For example, they found that some elderly people on a budget really liked
using the self checkout systems because they could go as slow as they
wanted, looking at the price that came up for each item, allowing them to
compare that price to the expected/sale price; they said they couldn't do
this when a checkout employee is quickly scanning items. If the they later
found that the price was wrong for even one item, they would have to go wait
in line at the customer service counter, which really bothered them. Their
design idea of RFID-like tags did not make so much sense after getting this
user/use data (they would still end up at the customer service counter).

I thought it was really interesting that this project group had assumptions
about who the users of these self checkout systems were, and they had
actually stated that the elderly community would not like them, because it's
"new technology;" so it was great to see that a little bit of user research
helped them see where their assumptions were misleading.

Joel

On 10/24/06, Bernie Monette <monette at iaai.ca> wrote:
>
>
> The funny thing about these self checkouts is that they were planned to
> make
> the lines go faster-instead they tend to attract fussier people who go
> through everything painstakingly slow: double checking everything.
>
> In my case-I used the primary interface only to have a very nice lady show
> up and then verify my payment. I wondered why she couldn't do the checkout
> as well.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Bernie
>

25 Oct 2006 - 8:59am
Onny Chatterjee
2006

Hahaha... I've interacted with the the tech who helps customers with their
ACM problems at my local supermarket so many times, I know him by name! In
response to Miguel's comments about usability issues leading to wasted
equipment, I am starting to see that at my local supermarket and a few
others stores I've visited. People are avoiding the ACMs. Consequently, I've
found that I've been using them more--even with the hassle, the lack of a
wait makes it quicker than the "12 items or less" line.

Also, my local supermarket (recently redesigned and thus full of new gizmos)
has installed a system in which customers carry around a barcode scanner to
scan in items as they drop them into the cart--an idea I also saw in an ABC
News profile about an obscure design firm named IDE0 ;). Don't get me
started on what a disastrous experience that was! The interaction model may
be ok, but the system is nowhere near robust enough yet.

-Onny

achatterjee at daed.com

P.S. For Pittsburgh members, I'm talking about the Giant Eagle on Centre
Ave.

On 10/24/06 10:06 PM, "Bernie Monette" <monette at iaai.ca> wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

> Well Richard, if it is not easy to use by the final user, then the final
> user won't uses it, then lot of wasted money on equipment that no one uses
> so no benefits.
[Miguel]

> The funny thing about these self checkouts is that they were planned to make
> the lines go faster-instead they tend to attract fussier people who go
> through everything painstakingly slow: double checking everything.
>
> In my case-I used the primary interface only to have a very nice lady show
> up and then verify my payment. I wondered why she couldn't do the checkout
> as well.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Bernie

Onny Chatterjee

......................

User Research Specialist
Daedalus Excel
voice 412.687.7000 ext.21
fax 412.687.7500
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......................

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25 Oct 2006 - 1:44pm
Dave Philbin
2005

> 3. It (she, if you care, at least voicewise) gave me change and a receipt,

which I took along with my merchandise as I walked away.

The first time I went into Home Depot and used the system, I got wierded
out, because 'she' is a friend of mine from Atlanta! She did the voice
overs for a POS prototype at the NCR Human Interface Technology Center (at
the time, I think it was still AT&T GIS HITC, before NCR was spun back off).
And then years later, voila, they show up in production machines being
rolled out in major retailers!

So the next time you do a demo, and think 'Ah, these are only placeholder
graphics (or voiceovers or text content, etc.).'. You never know where
they'll end up.

-Dave Philbin

25 Oct 2006 - 4:56pm
cfmdesigns
2004

>From: "Richard (ENT Technologies)" <richard at enttech.com.au>
>
>> The funny thing about these self checkouts is that they were planned
>> to make the lines go faster-instead they tend to attract fussier
>> people who go through everything painstakingly slow: double checking
>> everything.
>
>I thought they were designed to replace a human checkout operator, thereby saving
>thousands in wages, benefits etc. I don't think it has anything at all to do with making
>things easier for the customer (in practice they probably make things worse). It's all
>about making more profits for the shareholders.

Yeah, that's the intent, and it doesn't always work:

When I stayed at the Riviera in Las Vegas a few years ago, they had swapped to a kiosk check-in mechanism like has been successful with the airlines. Unfortunately, the user experience left something to be desired -- including the user having to find the box of blank keycards to put in the machine to have encoded for them. The single desk person they had (serving about 8 machines) had to step me through the entire sequence (I needed to change rooms, because they tried giving me a smoking one); if *I* can't figure out, you know it's hosed. Fortunately no one else was checking in then.

As noted, she said that the purpose was to cut down on staff. The ultimate effect to her was to nearly triple her workload, having to handhold even the most capable travelers.

(I've not seen any other hotel with such kiosks. Maybe Riviera's experience set the tone for the industry.)

-- Jim

26 Oct 2006 - 7:59am
Gordon, Richard E.
2006

> The funny thing about these self checkouts is that they were planned
> to make the lines go faster-instead they tend to attract fussier
> people who go through everything painstakingly slow: double checking
> everything.

In a very small academic study of a grocery store self-checkout I was
part of several years ago, we found that they actually took longer on
average and required much more effort on the part of the user. It is
funny how we can be led to believe that doing the work ourselves is
somehow more "convenient". Remember when gas station attendants actually
pumped gas for you?

If you look at the marketing pitches for these types of systems, the big
selling point is invariably the cost savings to the store (reduced
footprint and fewer cashiers). Usability and customer satisfaction were
not apparently all that high in the priority list, although they have
gotten better. Most people we talked to only used them when they had
just a few items and didn't require "special treatment" like alcohol or
tobacco.

A classic example of poor usability was an unfortunate shopper who
became increasing frustrated while the machine was repeatedly commanding
her to "place the item in the bag" (so it could be weighed). She was
confused and upset because she had already put the item in the bag (that
she was holding in her hand). Perfect compliance with inaccurate
instructions.

Richard E. Gordon
UI Technical Analyst, SAIC

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