The no-exit bakery
There's a bakery in our neighborhood that — like many businesses in New York — puts up a temporary vestibule to keep the winter winds out. It's easy to get in: pull the handle to a flimsy fabric-and-aluminum door, take two steps and open a glass door.
But getting out of this particular vestibule stymies people. There's no clear cue showing which of the three walls is the door. I've seen people hesitate, look confused, push against the walls — one guy even did a full mime-feeling-an-invisible-wall routine.
As I watch these trapped people, I'm inevitably reminded of issues that arise in web design:
- Navigation obviously takes more than casual use to learn. (Every customer entered through the vestibule minutes before attempting to leave it).
- Users don't want to try and fail. (They could quickly press each of the three walls to find the door but many don't.)
- Frustration happens in seconds.
- Clear messaging is a must for navigation. (A simple solution, like putting an "Exit" sticker at eye level, or adding a traditional door handle, would probably work well. The equivalent on a website would be to name a section "About us" instead of "Ingenuity.")