Sunday, April 20, 2008

Walk this way

Waiting to pay for a book in Foyles at St Pancras station the other day, I found myself queuing from the wrong direction. When the shop person finished dealing with the person in front, she then served someone else who just arrived from the other direction... as if I wasn't there.

I apparently misinterpreted the sign pictured here. I saw it as indicating the direction of travel of the queue, and as ushering me into the space just behind it. Its real intention was to point in the direction I should walk before turning around and queuing from the other side. I should add that the other side did have a notice saying 'queue from this side' but it wasn't visible to me.

Feeling stroppy, and wishing to embarrass my family as all good fathers and husbands should, I complained. The shop person just could not see the problem, because she knew which direction the queue was supposed to go. In effect, she made the case for user-testing. Just because we, having written and designed something, have no difficulty with it, does not mean someone else will react in the same way.

Happily for me, the next customer who arrived made the same 'mistake' as me. So of our sample of three customers, 66.6666% recurring interpreted the arrow as I did.