Posts Tagged ‘design’

Interior and environmental designers really need to think it through. And decision makers who approve of their designs should keep them mindful of the purpose of a space. Is the design useful as well as aesthetically pleasing?

Kaiser Permanente is our medical care provider and I cannot find fault with their medical services. But they seem to forget that patients are often accompanied by family members. People who chauffeur them, assist them, wait for them. The discomfort of family members increases the patient’s anxiety. Waiting rooms aren’t just spaces where patients wait to see doctors. They’re spaces where people wait for patients who are seeing doctors.

A recent pre-dawn trip to the Sand Canyon ER in Irvine was sheer hell. While my husband slept on a gurney with the help of pain meds and a blanket, I sat in a stackable chair, freezing cold, approaching 24 hours without sleep. The visit lasted five hours. The ER waiting room didn’t offer any more comfortable furniture. This is not a small or outdated facility. It’s new. It’s state-of-the-art. It’s stark.

CIMG0003A subsequent trip to their new La Palma facility in Anaheim, barely open 3 months now, cemented my viewpoint that decision makers aren’t actually sitting in the spendy retro furniture they’re giving a nod. The entire facility reminded me of scenes from Atlas Shrugged, mid-20th century retro. Light cherry wood every where. Very nice. Would you want to spend an hour or two or three in one of these chairs, waiting for a family member? By the way, the bench in the picture is a scarcity at this facility. Almost all the seating has armrests. Perhaps to encourage people to lose weight.

I really needed to get some work done. A table would have been nice. I’d have settled for an electrical outlet. In fairness, KP does offer guest wifi at their Irvine facility. Acknowledgement that people have lives. But I have a big beast laptop that will only run for 2-3 hours on battery. My waiting time could be usefully spent if they had considered family members in their design.

CIMG0004Then there is the parking lot. How many times have we all had to walk behind parked cars, endangered by drivers backing out of spaces? At KP Anaheim, they have lots of walkways, with signs that encourage walking for good health. Great. Adjacent to the parking lot, there is a lovely winding sidewalk flanked by natural grasses. It’s separated from the parking lot by a pseudo creek bed, presumably for drainage. But you can’t get to the sidewalk from the parking lot. Why not put the “creek” on the other side of the sidewalk, between the “nature walk” and the main driveway, enable patients to walk safely to the building?

I notice these design flaws everywhere. Designers need to consider who will be using a space and how. My business concept involves making space more functional. I’ve never taken a design class. Maybe that’s a good thing. It seems living in the real world is a better teacher.


Change Resistant

Posted: October 5, 2011 by Nerdy Woman in Practical Ideas
Tags: , , , , , ,

Recently, Facebook made a lot of changes to their user interface and they’ve promised more changes to come. The changes have met with some very harsh, well-deserved criticism. Oh, I’m sure they had focus groups who voiced their opinions of what needed to be changed, and beta testers who love taking apart Chinese puzzle boxes in their spare time.

Are Facebook critics screaming because we all are resistant to change, forever preferring that which is familiar to us? I’m sure the Facebook developers and decision makers believe that’s the problem and that given time, we’ll like the new interface. Are they going to undo the changes? Roll it back to how it was before? Probably not. They’ve invested a lot of time and money in what they believe is a better interface.

Was the old interface a little bit kludgy? a little bit unwieldy if you have hundreds, thousands of “friends”? Yep. No doubt about it. But it was fairly easy to figure out. Back in the day, software developers strived to make their software “intuitive to use.” This concept seems to have been forgotten by the Facebook developers.

Hearing the words “that’s the way it’s always been done here” makes me want to scream. I know that, at some point in the past, someone came up with a “brilliant” method for completing a task or organizing a project. I am always the first to encourage a rethink as new technologies or other changes affect that beloved and familiar procedure.

But the internet is a tool. And while it’s true that you can’t visit too many websites these days without an Adobe Flash Player add-in, it’s time for a little “old skool” thinking.

1. Is it intuitive to use? Could Grandma get on this website, find her way around, and look forward to coming back because the site didn’t make her feel incompetent?

2. Is navigation easy to understand? No mystery-meat icons instead of words, no need to click more than 3 or 4 times to get where you want to go? I have no doubt that Facebook would have met with less resistance if they’d left the title bar alone. FB users all knew home, profile, account sequence in the upper right corner.

3. Is it easy to customize the user interface? Not all sites need this, but a site like Facebook definitely does. It seems that the newsfeed/home page has become much more “one size fits all” Even my web-based e-mail screen allows me to group, categorize, sort, and filter information.

I have no doubt the Facebook world is in mourning the loss of the friendlier site FB once was. Take heart, my friends, a year from now, we’ll be used to it. We won’t think it’s any better than we do now, but we’ll have learned to live with it.

Last word: I hope website designers everywhere are taking notes and learning something from Facebook’s introduction of “new coke.”