Once one starts to work within the field of User Experience you cannot but help to start notice it everywhere, be it good or bad.
Recently at a nearby Sainsbury’s supermarket they closed down the petrol station, knocked it completely down and rebuilt it from the ground up.
I remember thinking over the period of the 3-4 months of the rebuild as I visited the supermarket and watched the transformation taking place;
- How different will it really be?
- Why have they knocked down this petrol station?
- What could possibly be improved?
Looking back I do recall there were a lot of queues, cars backing up quite considerably due to the fact that the lanes, separated by three sets of three pumps, were only one car wide.
With three pumps in a row, if the two people in front finished first and drove off, but the third car was still filling up, due the tightness of the lanes, it meant that those two pumps in front were left unused until the third driver had paid and then driven off, because none of the cars could get around the car to the unused pumps in front.
This of course created huge queues particularly in rush hour, leading to angry customers likely to go elsewhere, and possible aggravation for the staff serving the customers dealing with these problems.
So how did Sainsbury’s deal with these issues?
Firstly they widened the lanes so cars can drive around a customer filling up to a unused pump in front, which seems obvious of course, and it helped immediately. They also installed really simple, friendly, aesthetically pleasing, easy to use pumps where you can set the price before you even fill up, pay by card and swipe your nectar card.
This of course provides a much more user friendly payment process, saves the customer having to go into the shop to pay, and also reduces the queues in the shop, therefore reducing possible stress for the staff.
I can imagine it is win win situation for everyone.
On a base level this is no different from designing a website and it’s user experience. If we can learn how our users behave, what the possible problems are on their journey to reach the goals we have set, we too can then modify our virtual ‘petrol station’ for better results and hopefully have a win win situation for all.
Now how long will it take for Tesco up the road to follow suit?