February 01, 2008

Terrible UI o’ the day

Ah, Vegas: It’s like the whole town just coughs into your mouth.  Everything about this place makes me feel dirty, strung-out, and used.

I mention it because just now I was impressed to find a Coke machine that featured a credit card swipe-strip for payment.  Kind of convenient, I thought–though of course it means that the prices have been jacked out of the range of the small bills you’re likely to be carrying.

Speaking of price… It’s displayed only intermittently, when the words “Coca-Cola” aren’t crawling by.  (I’m sure that text is very helpful to the people confused about the nature of this giant red machine that sells only Coca-Cola.)  Terrible info presentation, but whatever, I’m thirsty.

Swipe, pause… card authorized, press soda button.  Wait several seconds… nothing.  Did it hear me?  I press again.  Wait… [rumble] Coke arrives.  And then another.  And then a third.  Suddenly I’ve paid nearly eight bucks for 60oz. of sugar water–about 10x more than I actually wanted.

Genius!  I’m serious, actually: by tossing out the most basic interface principle of providing prompt user feedback, these guys just tripled their income.  How many times a day must this happen, and who’s going to spend time sweating these guys for $5?  The house wins again.

PS–I know that in posting this little bit of whining I’m really unleashing the power of the blog, so to speak.  Maybe the anti-consumer UI beatings that happen in Vegas should, in fact, stay in Vegas.

Posted by John Nack at 4:54 PM on February 01, 2008
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