Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Did I book it? or not?

On my recent trip to Stockholm, I had the daunting task to do my own laundry. This led me to interact with a complex laundry room booking system. The booking machine had all the instructions in Svenska and the interface complex even for a localite (A Swedish lady who tried to help me was also confused!)

Finally, when I did manage to book a machine, it took few minutes to figure out which washer/dryer I had booked, as the label on the machines were equally confusing.

The whole experience made me realize the importance of pictorial interfaces. Pictorial interfaces, with appropriate use of iconography, can cover various user demographics. Pictorial interfaces cross the language barrier and
illiterate users will be able to understand them as well. Pictorial interfaces do have few drawbacks regarding accessibility (how will a visually impaired user use these systems?), but however makes things simpler.