Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Boarding Pass Design Imitates Fix by Users

Boarding pass usability ...

"Pointing out what matters
When you check in for a flight the ground stewards circle the gate number and the boarding time (picture on the left), just to make sure that you and the flight crew are on the same page with regard to the take off time and place. Boarding passes are so poorly designed that it is hard to look up your boarding time, even if you're looking for it. On a recent flight I came across a new boarding pass design (right picture) on which the ground steward's circles were preprinted. The whole pass has a meticulous layout, and suddenly there are these two intentionally shaky red 'markings' that indicate your boarding time and gate.

Imitating a fix
It's good to see the airline has picked up on the fact that boarding time and gate are actually the most important pieces of information on the whole piece of paper, but simply adding the sketchy red circles to the ticket seems a somewhat strange approach. Why not design a boarding pass that points out the boarding time and gate more clearly from the start? On the other hand: whatever gets the job done. And the red circles definitely stand out, and the users are already familiar with their meaning. But what will the ground stewards do now? Add another circle to the pass, just to make sure that you really got the time and place right? The new design just might have robbed the ground stewards of an important way of bringing something to your attention.

New seat design
And then a side note on the subject of flying that should delight everyone who has every flown economy: new seat design provides a place to rest your head, and more leg-space."    (Continued via the product usability weblog)    [Usability Resources]

Left: boarding details circled by ground steward, right: preprinted circles on new boarding pass. - Usability, User Interface Design

Left: boarding details circled by ground steward, right: preprinted circles on new boarding pass.

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