I just returned from a long overseas trek at a couple of Oracle OpenWorld and Code events. A big thank you to all the folks who helped set things up, the guests and speakers who attended. While staying in one of the cities (neither the city nor the hotel will be named), I had one of those frustrating experiences and then an aha moment, that I wanted to share.
I check into one of the well known brands of hotels that we are all familiar with and as I enter the room, I struggle to figure out how to get the lights on and what buttons control what lights. This is not unique, it has happened at other places I have stayed at and I am sure you have experienced.
Then I enter the bathroom, just to check it out and realize after closing the door, I am not able to open it. I play with this unique door handle and struggle to figure it out. Is this a prelude for things to come? Well yes, I get into the shower without too much thought as it has been a long 12+ hour flight. I start to look for the shower faucet and nothing in sight. I touch every chrome fitting hoping for a miracle but no luck. Eventually I see that all the controls instead of being in the front are on the side behind me. I turn the shower on, and all I get for the longest time is cold water, and given I have to leave for a meeting, I have to endure it. Later on when I return, I am using the WC (don't worry nothing graphic here), and I try to feel my way to the toilet roll holder which is behind me, and while trying to get to it many times end up dislodging the phone which happens to be there, and then try to save it from falling in. Don't worry I caught it every time.
I don't know if this was something unique to that chain of hotels, the city, country, but what it reminded me off, was the importance of User Experience (UX) Design. I know UI and UX are used by lay people like me, interchangeably, so I won't go there. This in turn reminded me of an interview I did with Shakeeb Rahman about UX Design. Rather than rehash it, I will just share it below. So my parting thoughts are just this, the key thing is no matter what a engineer or developer designs, software, video games, cars, hotels, or anything that a human has a touchpoint with, thought given to how the product or service will be used can go a long way in avoiding frustration and providing customer satisfaction. Please make things intuitive and "Go Shakeeb!"