Recently, for some reason I’ve been paying more attention to the user experience (UX) of everyday things. This might be due to a very user-focused former colleague of mine, who imparted some of her design sharpness and increased my general awareness of UX issues. Generally, I’ve heard UX described in terms of web or mobile technology applications — does the user get frustrated with the site, how many clicks does it take to get to Y page, is the app confusing, etc. But the idea also translates into general product design (technology-enabled or not). I feel like posting some of my experiences, and thus starts a new UX thread of my blog.
A month or so ago our local Whole Foods switched to all-plastic shopping carts and got rid of the traditional, metal shopping carts. The new ones are nice — they roll around well and are easy to maneuver. However, I have one UX / design issue where I believe they are worse than traditional metal carts. Here is a picture of one of the new carts (original image courtesy of Plastics News Europe … hand-drawn annotations mine):
I’ve drawn in how the “child seat” (or purse seat, dog seat, whatever you put there) folds up — to the right. This means that when the carts are stacked up outdoors, the sitting surfaces face upwards. So when it rains or snows, the sitting surfaces get all wet. Contrast this with traditional metal carts, shown below (original image courtesy Versacart … again, bad hand-drawn annotations mine):
With the metal carts, the seat flips up to the left, and when carts are stacked up, the sitting surfaces face downwards. Which means that you can just plop a child / bag / dog into the seat, even if the cart has been outside in bad weather because at least the seat itself is dry. I’m sure it’s a corner-case that doesn’t affect many folks regularly, but it would be nice for places that use carts with this design (Target, Whole Foods) to put paper towels near the entrances to dry off the seats.