Taking a shower and user-centered design ~ Abaster

04 June 2009

Taking a shower and user-centered design

In an upscale hotel in Barcelona the instruction card below is prominently displayed in the bathroom to allow the guest to be able to manipulate the bath and shower controls:

The card is necessary because the bath/shower controls (pictured above) are not labeled or intuitive - three controls that are identical in look and feel but have distinct and different purposes. Unfortunately, the card itself is hardly comprehensible, let alone memorable, so that by the time you have stepped into the shower you have already forgotten the way the taps have to be turned and pushed.

The result is a frustrating and uncomfortable experience with the elegance of the taps, the marble bath and the pleasing color scheme quickly forgotten. The cost to the hotel is a disgruntled guest who may or may not return or recommend the hotel to others. Thus something that is intended to please is, unfortunately, having the opposite effect. All designers would do well to occasionally revisit the user-centered design classic by Don Norman entitled The Design of Everyday Things.