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Stupid Usability #87 

No Exit

Written By: Joel Baglien
Posted: 2/2/2015

From the mind of Joel Baglien, VP of Business Growth at High Monkey:

Parking seems to show up as a regular theme for stupid usability.  Here's a new one.
Virgil Carroll and I recently headed to downtown Minneapolis representing High Monkey at a multi-vendor meeting.  The location was new to us and we were pleasantly surprised to find both a parking lot and open parking spaces in front of the building.  Here's the sequence of events:
Step 1:  Pulled into the parking lot and pressed the button to get a ticket to enter the lot.

Step 2:  Noticed the sign saying "No Parking Without Attendant Present".  Okaaaay, so where is the attendant?  Pulled into the lot, parked the car, got out and looked around.  No attendant to be seen.  First sign of impending Stupid Usability.

Step 3:  Looked for a credit card payment terminal at the exit - nothing visible.  Looked around for an alternate exit to the parking lot where there might be a payment terminal or the "Attendant".  Again, nothing visible - it's not a very big parking lot.
Step 4:  Walked over to the exit barrier to satisfy my curiosity about how we were going to exit the parking lot.  I found a small sign (see below) saying that we needed to purchase a "token" at the front desk.

Step 5:  Feeling confident that we figured out the parking process, we went into the building, found the conference room, and attended our meeting.  After the meeting, we got involved in a conversation in the building lobby that lasted 10 minutes.  During those ten minutes, the other six vendors that attended the same meeting as us went out to the parking lot, got in their cars, drove to the exit gate, discovered that they needed a token, backed up, re-parked their car, walked inside to buy a token from the receptionist, got back in their car, and exited the parking lot.
Six vendors - same result, same sheepish walk into the building to buy a token.
We remembered to buy a token before we left the building.
The Stupid Usability of this situation is obvious but let me expand...

  • The "buy a token" sign is too late in the process to do anything about it.
  • 6 out of 7 visitors (the other vendors) had to back up, re-park, and go back inside the building to buy a token.
  • We would not have known about buying a token except for walking over to look at the exit gate - something a person normally would never do.
  • Who in the hell uses tokens to pay for parking anyway?
  • There were no signs in the lobby telling people to buy a token.
  • The receptionist apparently did not feel it was in her job description to let visitors know they needed a token to leave.

On the upside, I admit to a slightly perverse pleasure in watching the other six vendors fail in their first attempt to exit the parking lot.  Yes, I could have shared my knowledge about the exit token but I also thought it would be interesting to observe Stupid Usability in action.  I was not disappointed.
For those who were victims of the parking lot token, at least they got a great view of the construction progress on the new downtown football stadium.


Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 2/2/2015 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments