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All Physical Computing

Grandma at McDonald’s

Watching this video is an eye-opening experience as a designer. No doubt the intention of the wide range of hardware engineers, product designers, salespeople, & many others was good in building an order kiosk for their restaurants; that doesn’t mean the experience ends up working equally well for everyone.

One issue that’s glaringly obvious is how this grandma keeps mentioning the text is too small to read. That’s inexcusable. No one ever complains text in a UI is too large, so when making an interface for the public, that’s table stakes usability work.

Then there’s myriad other usability issues: paying, the workflow of ordering & how the food is expected to be served, & many more. All which could be clearer. In 2016, a web designer I’ve long looked up to, Adam Morse, wrote "The Veil of Ignorance", with the premise "what if you woke up as someone else, in any position in society?" Morse:

When I sit down to design things I try to put on the veil of ignorance. I imagine a world where I am not who I am right now. And I think about all the things that could possibly frustrate me. Then I think some more.

Whether we’re making small installations or global hardware for McDonald’s, it’s critical to keep this perspective in mind. It’s good business, allowing more people to use our products; making products & services inclusive gives everyone the respect they deserve, especially in public.