In today’s post, Aza Raskin responds to a reader’s question regarding the interface of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and a quasimodal and more humane approach to design.
Be sure to read our other interviews in our leadership series.
Aza, the following picture was taken by a friend. It is an ATM at an airport. I know the image is difficult to see, but would love your thoughts on the interface of this ATM machine.
Below is Aza’s response to this reader:
Here’s how the machines like the one in the picture normally work:
(1) Feed your card into the machine. The ATM eats the card, quarter-inch by quarter-inch.
(2) Now that the card has been read, you enter your PIN.
(3) Select how much money you want to withdraw.
(4) Take your cash.
(5) The ATM spits out your card and you take it. If you don’t take it, the machine beeps incessantly.
Despite the beeping, I have forgotten my card in such machines. The problem stems from a mode: the credit card is either in your possession, or being read by the ATM. As is almost always the case when a direct solution to a mode is required, the solution is to use a quasimode. The user should perform a kinesthetically active action while the card is being read by the machine. Such actions can be unwieldy and impractical (like pressing a foot pedal) or they can be simple and effective (like holding onto the card).
Citibank ATMs do this well — they ask you to dip or swipe your card. This forces you to be touching the card during the entire time in which the the card is being read. With the quasimodal solution, you won’t ever forget your card (unless you are foolish enough to set the card down).
Other articles in the “Ask Aza Raskin” Series:
- Aza Raskin discusses the infinite scroll approach to Google search results.
- Aza Raskin shares his thoughts on Feature Bloat (aka, Featuritis)
- Aza Raskin describes the concept of Quasimodal Design.
- Aza Raskin explains the role of Poka Yoke in the User Experience
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Here in Europe, ATMs usually invert steps 4 and 5. First they return you the card, and only when you have taken it, they spit out the money. IMHO just as effective as the Citibank approach.
James Taylor says
This is true but the other notable thing about most ATMs is how DUMB they are! They fail to identify you, don’t change their UI based on who you are or what accounts you have or what is known about your use of ATM etc.
Check out http://www.edmblog.com/weblog/2006/09/using_decisioni.html for some discussion on this