Our assignment, in a nutshell, was to observe a piece of public interactive technology, used by many different people, and take notes of how they use it, what seems to work and what doesn’t.
I chose the NJ Transit ticket vending machines, because I have to deal with these regularly and I always take the experience for granted. Norman’s “Design of Everyday Things” (a reading for class) heightened my awareness of both aesthetics and functionality of objects designed primarily for utility.
Orange and blue are opposite on the color wheel, and thus complimentary, so the orange around the touch-screen is certainly eye-catching and serves its purpose (not a fan of orange though). I’m not crazy about the fine print travel details at eye level – I’ve never seen anyone referring to it but I’m all for disclosure so it should be displayed somewhere, maybe vertically down the side, if the unit were wider, like bullet points?. The red LED screen message at the top is an eye-sore and “the way to go” as a slogan is just so typical, so lame. This screen area is presumably to indicate whether a machine is out of service or to note delays but it’s too high up to be practical – it should be right above the screen instead and only light up if it has something useful to convey. The placements of the bill-taker, credit card swiper and ticket-receiving areas are awkward and don’t line up with anything – more thought should have gone into the aesthetics of this.
I took photos of each screen as I went through the process of buying a round-trip ticket. See the captions below each photo for comments.
There is space on the screen, below the button, to describe what "special promotions" are or they could be listed without a button.
There is space on the screen to identify "off-peak" hours - not obvious. Also 10-trip, weekly and monthly should be grouped and colored differently. "Other Rail Destinations and Tickets" is confusing and why is it in the same color as "Espanol"?
I like the inclusion of the disabled icons but in reality the trains are a pain to board if you are disabled. My station isn't on here so this screen annoys me, although I understand the convenience of listing the most popular destinations. They are not in alphabetical order though, so that is confusing!
There is plenty of space on the buttons to list the letters that are grouped - why make people think? I'd prefer an alphabetical listing of all stations that scrolls, like on an iPhone. Or an NJT rail map could be utilized, which would be more visually interesting and also geographically educational.
It's sad to see how few trains are handicapped-accessible. The left to right eye movement of the alphabetical listing is annoying - again, I'd prefer a vertical scroll with all stations.
The origin and destination stations should be much more visually obvious - perhaps in bold and bright blue or dark orange to match their color scheme. The $ amount should also be in bold.
Rather than an image of a hand, why aren't they showing the correct orientation of the credit card? That's the number one thing that people screw up when trying to pay by card.
YAWN! It would be nice if this screen could include a nice fortune-cookie-like message for the day or some random animated character doing something silly.
Again, a more interesting visual would be nice - perhaps an elf-like animated character in a ticket-printing factory.
A down-pointing arrow would be helpful - I've noticed tourists looking around for a second before finding the tray. Also, why does the photo on screen not show a ticket or receipt waiting for a person? I think the ticket window should be rigged with blinking LEDs (only partly kidding).
A super quick “thank-you!” screen message, or a smiley face (goes with the color scheme so why not?) would be nice to see at the very end, before running off to catch a train. Adding some fun images and/or sounds during any waiting period should be easy enough. The mundane experience of buying a ticket could use a shot of creativity and inspiration. NJT should make all efforts to keep commuters in a good mood, to help offset the daily grind of commuting with all the waiting, scrambling to get a seat, navigating people traffic, etc. I could use a laugh or even a mild smirk at the beginning and end of my day.