UX Lessons from Hand Drying #2

Today’s lesson is titled, “If you’re going to create a novel interaction that has value, do it in a way people can understand.” OK, so not the snappiest title, but it’s late and I need to go to bed. But this lesson is especially true for public devices where a large portion of the usage population will be seeing your particular model for the first time, and perhaps never to encounter it again. So if you are going to improve the interaction with a very different way of getting the result, you better make it bleedin’ obvious.

Here’s an example:

towel_dispenser2a.jpg
This dispenser is trying to do a noble thing: make it easier for anyone and everyone to get the towel out by providing a nice big bar to push on. See it? It’s the black thing protruding from the bottom edge. Problem is, it looks like part of the front cover, it’s hard to tell that’s where you’re supposed to push. (The flash from the camera is making the fingerprints stand out, it’s even less obvious in real life.) So lacking obvious clues you wave your hand around in front like crazy trying to get the automatic feed to work, which of course it doesn’t. A simple color or contrast change would have solved this problem, perhaps a textured area on the top of the bar to, to help indicate “touch me”.
 
OK, next example.
towel_dispenser3.jpg
This Georgia Pacific unit accomplishes the same thing but in a much more intuitive way. Though not quite as elegant, it’s sort of cheery as it looks like it’s trying to shake your hand. But it’s big enough that adults, children, people in wheelchairs etc. can all do easily. Heck, you could hit it with your butt if you were germ phobic, and it would still work. Novelty, plus benefit!

Lesson #1