Bing! You’ve got Cash!

The worst ATM I’ve used is at the Austin airport.

That in itself is a weird statement. How different can (should?) an ATM be? Just give me cash fast, right?

First it asks what language I want. Fine.

Then it confirmed: “You have selected English. Is this correct?” Yes.

But choosing “Yes” made a sound that is exactly the Windows “Cannot click there” sound. Like when you click outside a modal dialog. Turns out it used that sound every time you selected something properly, and no sound if you made a mistake — precisely the opposite of my Pavlovian reaction. The whole experience was unnerving.

So then it asks whether I want “Fast Cash” or “Other Transactions.” I chose fast. I got the usual list of $20, $40, …, $100. But I needed $150 or $200. Not an option. No way to say “Enter a number.” Only other option is “Cancel.” So I hit “Cancel.”

Not so fast! Now I am prompted: Do I want to “Exit” or “Start Over.” Start over of course. Oh wait, you need to swipe your card again and select your language. So “Exit” and “Start Over” do exactly the same thing. Great.

This time it’s “Other Transactions.” The following screen was identical to the “Fast Cash” screen, except now there’s also an option to type a different amount of cash.

Sigh.

Does your application have more choices than it needs? Does your application ask questions it doesn’t need to?

Sometimes it’s more subtle. For example, maybe you have 10 independent user settings, but there are really just 3 combinations of those 10 which 90% of users really need. Why not provide one option with 3 choices instead of making the user figure that out?

Or take a middle road: Provide 3 choices, but also have an expandable “Advanced” or “Details” view where power users can tweak further.

Not only will this cut down on your tech support, it also helps new users get going in the system with something consistent and sensible for them, which means your trials might go more smoothly.

So now that you’ve reached the end of this blog entry, would you like to Exit, or Start Over?