Recently we got a new vending machine at our office. Here is how the old machine worked.
- You walk up to the machine.
- You look through the glass and see what you want.
- You insert your money, push the 3 digit code, and the desired item falls to the bottom.
- You open the door and retrieve the item.
Here is how our new machine works. You are not going to believe me, so I have pictures to prove it.
Just as before, I walk up to the machine. We have yet to perfect a robot item delivery system yet, but I am sure one of the Office of the CTO robotics guys is all over it.
I look through the glass and see what I want. I've got my eyes on some Peanut M&M's. I see that the number is 502. I have no idea how much they cost. I hope I have enough cash on me.
Though there is nothing to suggest that the panel to the right is a touch screen, I have an iPad, so I might as well give it a go. I touch the screen.
Though there is only one user-interface choice, I am asked to "Make a selection" and touch the screen again. I am guessing this step is verification that I know what I want. The machine has no knowledge that I already had my eye on the Peanut M&M's. Perhaps one day AI will progress to the point of mental telepathy? I press "Make a selection."
I enter 502 which corresponds to the Peanut M&M's.
I now see that the Peanut M&M's cost $1.00. With the old vending machine, I would insert the money and be done. Here I am afforded the opportunity to purchase more items that are not good for me. So I need to touch the screen for Checkout.
I insert my dollar bill.
I get a thank you message while the machine locates item 502.
As with the old machine, the item drops into the trap below. I open the door and retrieve it.
That's 9 steps instead of 4. What's going on here is that the new machine handles the use case where a person wants to purchase more than one item. The old vending machine made a person buy one item at a time. My problem is that 99% of the time I only buy one item. This new machine offers functionality I do not need and complicates the functionality I do need.
User interface critique is alive in the lab.
UPDATE 1: In my 9-step example, I paid with cash. Autodesk Visiting Research Fellow, Mickey McManus, just pointed out to me that the picture from step 8, "Did you know? I also accept credit cards.", appears even if you have just paid with a credit card. When he does this, it makes him wonder if the machine recognized his credit card swipe.
UPDATE 2: User Experience Architect, Peter Maxfield, pointed out that the QR code on the machine takes you to a page that says that your trial 14-day QR code generation period is over. This vending machine story practically writes itself.