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Stupid Usability #122

Food and Drink

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 11/2/2015

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

Stupid usability shows up in many ways.  Sometimes it's at a restaurant (food) and sometimes at a coffee shop (drink).
Let's start with food . . .
A couple of months ago my family and I had a resort weekend in the town of Brainerd Minnesota.  Brainerd is known for being surrounded by lakes and is a truly beautiful area.  After a few hours of driving north from the Twin Cities, we checked into our resort and began thinking about dinner.  The nearest restaurant was a place named "Zorbaz" - located (no surprise) on a nearby lake with a great view of the sunset.
We found a table on an outside deck - things were looking good.  Then the menu arrived.  
I have never seen such a chaotic menu printed in such small font size with such a lack of white space.  Take a look below at the photos of two pages of the menu.
"Visual Jumble" would be an apt description.  Here's another couple of menu pages.
Maybe this is a personal irritation but throughout the menu, the letter "z" was substituted for "s" and sometimes "c".  I'm a fan of unique graphiz dezign and language uze but it waz juzt too much.  Zomeone convinzed the ownerz of Zorbaz thiz waz a good idea.  It equalz Ztupid Uzability in zpadez. You can zee why thiz botherz mozt people.  The lake view waz great - the food waz only average. Enough ziad.
Let's move on to drink . . .
There is a chain of coffee shops, let's say they are named after a large animal with antlers - the name starts with "C" and ends with "bou".  I recently had a High Monkey meeting at the downtown Minneapolis location.  I'm not a coffee guy - I like tea.  I like strong English or Irish Breakfast teas, black teas, with a lot of caffeine.  I approached the counter to order my tea.  The conversation went like this . . .
Me:  Can I get your black iced tea as a hot tea?
Barista:  Would you like Earl Gray?
Me:  No thanks, I don't Earl Gray tea it's a completely different flavor.
Barista:  How about our Mango Black tea?
Me:  No, I don't want a fruit flavored tea.  I just want a strong black tea.
Barista:  The only way you can get black tea is as iced tea.
Me:  So you can't do a black tea as a hot tea?
Barista:  No.
Me:  Why not?
Barista:  We don't have a vendor for black tea that meets our standards for rainforest compliance and renewability.
Me:  Um . . . I don't think I understand.
Barista:  (repeats the rainforest explanation again and adds more stuff I don't care about or want to hear about)
Me:  You have black tea as iced tea.  I assume you have to brew it before you ice it down.  Can't you do that or just heat up some iced tea?
Barista:  We can't.  We don't have a hot black tea.
Me:  (very long pause)  Just give me the black iced tea.
You can spot the moment when the conversation got weird and the Barista became a practitioner of stupid usability. I don't think the Barista had a clue how stupid the conversation became - apparently the script he had to memorize didn't allow for any creative thinking or interpretation of the menu.  The only thing that made this worse, or more stupid, was that the Barista was the manager who sets the tone for the entire coffee shop.  

This is one of the few times I would add a descriptor and call my experience, "Stupid Surreal Usability".


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: 11/2/2015 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments