#47 Visionary vs. incremental approach

The author looking ahead with a visionary approach while taking incremental steps.

In a product development team, you tend to see roughly two types of approaches.visionary approach, which are 1 – a visionary approach and 2- an incremental approach.

#1 tends to be taken by some product managers and UX designers, while #2 tends to be taken by many engineers.

From my own experience as a UX designer, I’d say both approaches are important for a balanced product development. As a UX designer, you need to be exposed to both approach and perspective, ideally in any projects.

Now of course, a project scope may define which approach needs to be more primary than the other.

For example, an advanced design concept project looking into the future may require completely a visionary approach.

And if you are working on a very tight deadline to launch an enhanced version of an already existing product, you may need to focus primarily on incremental approach.


Visionary approach

A visionary approach requires you to be more open to new ideas, not limited by current constraints, and encourage out of the box thinking towards what is an ideal user experience for a given product or a service.

If you have never worked on such a project and always been working on a project where all the requirements are set and given to you, you might feel uncomfortable first as nothing is defined.

In this case, because nothing is defined for you, you as a UX designer is the one who needs to make bunch of assumptions and hypotheses to build concepts.

While this is a great opportunity to unleash your creativity and expand your ability to create something out of nothing, it could get too blue-sky and ungrounded.


Incremental approach

On the other hand, an incremental approach tends to get yourself locked in to a very limited short-sighted perspective. 

It’s easier to build some minor enhancements based on an already existing product.

And you can still build something meaningful out of this approach for sure.

In reality, many ongoing projects fall under this category.

But even in this kind of situation with a tight deadline, it would still be worth taking time and putting things in perspective, and try to incorporate an essence of a visionary approach, to at least think about what would be the next step, the next next step after the current version of the product.

This may help not getting trapped in a vicious cycle of technical debts, where a short-sighted temporary solution piling up overtime and making things harder to change.


When both approaches connect together

Once a visionary approach and an incremental approach connect together in form of a concrete roadmap with milestones, a product strategy becomes much more powerful, solid and meaningful.

At that point, you will have a clear incremental steps that you can take from today to reach and achieve the vision.

A vision without steps to get there is meaningless.

An incremental approach without a vision does not have a future.


Check out YouTube version too.

#46 Value of hand-drawn sketches in a UX process

An image of the author drawing on a notebook gets drawn by an illustration guy.

Today, most UX designers use UX design and prototype software programs such as Sketch, Figma, InVision, Adobe XD and so on. While these are great tools to quickly create click through prototypes, and at some point, you will have to use these digital tools in your UX design process, I would still recommend doing some hand-drawn sketches in early stages, especially at the beginning of the process.

Why?

So that you can completely free yourself from various constrains, including software constraints. These could also be constraints towards the current version of a product you are designing for. 

As soon as you start creating something in a digital UX design software programs, you start getting deep into visual design details of every single elements that you create.

This tends to take your attention away from a bigger picture.

Of course it depends on the scope and the context of your project.

But in general from my own experience, it tends to work better if you start with a hand-drawn sketch first, so that you can minimize initial distractions and constraints.

Now it is true that hand-drawn sketches also have constraints too.

For example, if you have drawn a sketch of one screen, and want to create a sketch of the second screen with a popup overlaid on top of the first screen, it’s a duplicated effort if you were to hand-draw everything all over again.

This is where a hybrid approach can come into rescue. We can get creative and use technology wisely without losing the original intent.

In this case, you can hand-draw just the popup portion for your second screen.

Then, you scan both of your hand-drawn sketches, and composite those digitally on your computer.

You can take this approach and make the whole process a lot more productive, while still preserving the constraint-free nature of the hand-drawn sketches.

It’s nothing special, really simple.

But it’s a pretty efficient and effective way to quickly visualize ideas.

The result could become a scenario storyboard, or even a rough video scenario if put into a video editing software such as iMovie.


Because UX designers come from all the different backgrounds, some of you may not necessarily feel too comfortable doing hand-drawn sketches.

But don’t worry, that’s totally fine.

We don’t ned to be an excellent artist to do so.

The most important thing is to visualize ideas so that it becomes communicative to others.

As long as it serves this purpose, it’s totally fine to have crappy drawings.

In fact, the nature of hand-drawn sketches emphasizes the fact that it’s still a very early idea, and nothing is set it stone.

This allows all the audiences to lower their guards and resistance to something new, which is a stark difference compared to showing a visually finished-looking early concepts, which sometimes may trigger more resistance from its audience.

In a nutshell, a hand-drawn approach and a hybrid approach allows everyone including a UX designer who’s doing the sketches to be more open to new ideas and new possibilities!


Check out YouTube version too.

Also, check out “Magic of being hands-on“.

#45 UX designer is a visual facilitator

An illustration of the author's head open and absorbing various input from other people and the world

In today’s fast-paced, complex world of interactive products, designers tasks are no longer done by an individual contributor anymore.

It’s a highly collaborative team effort, including not only UX designers but also interaction designers, visual designers, product managers, engineers QA folks, marketing folks and so on.

Individual contribution is still important, but almost always in the context of team environment.

Sharing, absorbing people’s comments and ideas including your own, and then iterating the original ideas into something new and better quickly becomes the key and critical factor for a success.

So what do these all mean to you as a UX designer?

This means that you should always be open to various inputs from various people, and be prepared for constantly iterating your ideas.

You should always be taking notes, voice memos, pictures, screenshots/etc for any bits and pieces of ideas.

These ideas not only come in during proper channels such as work emails and work slack messages.

It could come through personal chats, messaging, emails from casual small talks in person or via zoom calls/etc.

It could also come to you when you are not officially in a work mode, or not even in front of your desk or a computer.

In fact, a lot of good ideas come to you when you are away from your work desk or a computer, such as when you are in a restroom, when you are taking a shower, running, walking, doing yoga, doing an exercise, doing dishes, cleaning your rooms, riding your bike, while driving, and so on.

In today’s world where we are constantly being overloaded by too much information, we sometimes feel that almost every possible idea has been tried out by many people so many times at various points in time around the world.

While this may be true to certain extent, it is also true that the “same idea” will always end up somewhat different when developed by different group of people in a different context.

And every single context for every single product or service will always be different to certain extent, even though some of them might share very similar conditions.

Good ideas are often a result of capturing various interesting ideas from various channels and combine those, and iterate those into something cohesive, by fitting those into the right mix in the most context-appropriate way to solve a particular problem it is intended to solve.

At this point, a UX designer is more like a facilitator, an organizer, who can  weave various ideas into one cohesive visual story quickly.

Also, in today’s highly collaborative team environment, the notion of “who’s idea is this?” is getting less and less relevant, as things are almost always the result of multiple people’s contributions, even though a UX designer in the team might be the one who put together the team’s ideas visually.

This line of thinking will help set you free from your own ego towards the ownership of ideas, so that you become a better team player.


Check out YouTube version too!

#44 UX of public restroom door locks

Author questioning various public restroom keys

Previously I talked about user experience of public restrooms, focusing on two aspects, 1 – many people did not wash their hands, 2 – some people did not flush.

This time, I want to talk about door lock systems in public restrooms.

So there are many different types of door locks across various public restrooms.

A small knob or a button on the door handle,

a separate knob under the door handle,

a simple horizontal bar that you can slide,

an auto-lock that you cannot open from the outside,

including the one that you have to type in a code to enter.

In some gas stations or super markets, you have to ask for a key or a code at a cashier in the first place.


The door locks for public restrooms are critical part of the user experience in various ways.

1 – You need a clear visual confirmation that a door is locked when you are inside, so that you feel safe, without having to worry about someone accidentally open the door.

Some public restrooms have door lock systems that don’t work well, or in a worst case, doesn’t work at all. This is a nightmare. 

There are also some locks that are hard to visually confirm whether it’s in a locked status or not.

When you come across this type of obscure door lock, it’s a blow on your piece of mind, which I really personally hate.

A restroom door lock should absolutely be deadly obvious and simple to see if it’s locked or not, both from inside and outside.


2 – You want to minimize a physical contact to door knobs, locks and keys if there’s any.

According to some research, public restroom door knobs are some of the most germ-infested objects.

Now that the world is in pandemic, this becomes even more concerning.

The thing about the door knobs and the door locks are that you have to touch those after washing your hands.


3 – You want to know if someone is inside or not from the outside

Many public restrooms don’t have clear visual indicators whether its currently occupied or not. This ends up people keep trying to open the door, only to realize that it’s locked.  This means you have to touch the door knob more than needed.

Also, if you are already inside and hear someone trying to open the door, this is not a good experience even though the door is fully locked.


These bring up an interesting UX question:

Can we create a door and a door lock system with a super-clear visual indicator if someone is using it or not, and the one that doesn’t require using our hands to lock and unlock?

While I don’t have all the answers to this, one potential idea that I can think of is something like this, inspired by a foot switch for floor lamps.

What if we make a public restroom door lock with a foot switch?

You just have a locking bar installed towards the bottom of a door that moves sideways using your foot.

Also, an indicator should appear on the outside of the door so that you can clearly see if someone is in or not.

This should solve those three problems that I pointed out earlier, so that …

1 – The locking bar gives you a visual conformation and peace of mind that it’s in a locked status when you are inside

2 – You can lock/unlock with a foot switch, without touching it with your hands. 

3 – You can clearly see “occupied status” visually from the outside.


I haven’t thought through this, so I’m sure that there are bunch of problems if you were to actually implement this in the most user-friendly way possible.

But it’s an interesting ideation exercise to take one of everyday life’s physical UX problems, and try to come up with solution ideas.

You should try these too!

It may give you some fresh ideas and inspirations, especially if you mostly deal with digital user experiences.


Check out YouTube version too.

Here’s another article on a user experience of public restrooms.

#43 Is redesign of a popular product good for your portfolio?

The author questioning about a redesign of a popular product as part of a UX portfolio

Many people tend to jump right into a redesign project of popular products and services such as Spotify or iPad for example.

While there’s nothing wrong with this and it may sound cool on its surface, this approach is not the most effective way to work on your own UX project to be put in your portfolio.

Framing a project as “redesign of XYZ” is basically generalizing your project by claiming that the core focus of your project is the “redesign”.

But the term “redesign” is very generic and bland.

As a result, it gives a very generic impression to its audience that you don’t have a clear focus or intention on your project.

Redesign sounds like you just did a visual refresh of the given product or service without putting much thoughts on it.

UX is all about solving user’s problem. 

From a hiring manager’s perspective, a project that focuses on solving a specific problem is much more insightful and valuable to see how a candidate tackled the problem.

Framing your own project is important part of your UX work, especially if it’s a project that you created on your own.

So framing your project as generic as “redesign of XYZ” is probably the last thing that you would want to do.

To me,  framing your project as “redesign” is almost the same as saying you didn’t put much thoughts on your project, and you don’t exactly understand what UX is.

I would strongly recommend not to frame your project as “redesign of something”.

Instead, be specific on what UX problem you are trying to solve.

Look around you, and you will find quite a few products or services that you use on a regular basis that have UX problems that you always get frustrated with. 

Picking one of such problems and defining it clearly is a good way to start your new project, focusing on a very specific problem.

It’s perfectly fine if you went through this exercise and you ended up choosing a popular product as a result of it, as long as you have a clear focus on what problem to solve, and define it clearly.


See YouTube version too.

Also check out How to work on your own UX project.

#42 How to come up with good UX ideas

The author tries to come up with good UX ideas

Good UX ideas and concepts always come down to solving user’s problems. 

A cool, super-innovative idea that doesn’t solve a user’s problem doesn’t provide much value.

Which takes us to look into users. 

What are the given user’s problems? 

When we think about user’s problems, we need to be open and flexible to the definition of “user’s problems”. 

User’s problems are not necessarily just about “doing a task A in product B is a pain in the ass” type of concrete, visible things. 

It could be something invisible, or something more fundamental.

So how do you identify those problems?

It comes down to talking to users, observing users, asking questions to users, and carefully understanding user’s frustrations and desires both through what they say AND what they don’t say but kind of hint that they desire. 

All these can be done through an exploratory user research. 

Exploratory user research does not have to be formally conducted. 

You can do it through a simple 1 on 1 interview, as long as you have key questions and some stimuli prepared.

You can even do it in an informal way if there’s a tight budget and schedule constrains.

But it’s extremely important to talk to users or someone familiar with user’s tasks and needs.

Important thing is that you keep asking questions to drill down to the core of a problem. And you can start from anywhere.

For example, if you have a specific report page of a particular web application that you want to improve, the questions are: 

  • How do users currently use this report page? 
  • What value does it give to users? 
  • What concrete actions can users take from this report?

… and so on and so on.

Don’t focus on trying to come up with good ideas. 

Rather, focus on user’s problems empathetically.

Understand users’ problems, distill those problems in to core problems, and try to solve those core problems in the simplest way possible.

UX designers are in a way privileged to have an ability to visualize abstract visions and ideas into something concrete such as design sketches, prototypes, and scenario movies to drive things forward. 

And when you visualize ideas and concepts, the important thing is a big picture. 

This big picture goes back to a fundamental user’s problem that I mentioned previously.

Visualization always stimulates people, and help them further think through things that they never thought of if it were not visualized.

As long as you are clear with the user’s problem, you should be fine.

The very first version of your visualization might be crappy, but the most important thing is that you started. 

Once started, a positive feedback loop kicks in, and that gets you moving. 

I wrote an article on this called “magic of being hands-on”. Check that out too!

Check out YouTube version too.


#41 UX of emptying dyson dust bin

The author holding dyson dust bin.

Dyson is one of the most popular brands in home vacuum cleaner category. I’ve been a Dyson customer for the past decades. The model that we currently use in our household is called “dyson cinetic big ball animal +”. It’s the one without washable filters. Overall, I highly respect Dyson as a company, as a brand, who innovated the product category by introducing bag-less vacuum that didn’t lose a suction power.

According to Dyson, 

“It is so efficient it captures the dust that blocks cyclones and clog filters, so it doesn’t lose suction.”

Still I get frustrated whenever I clean up the dust bin.

Why?

Because I feel like I can never get rid of all the dust inside the cyclone!

Obviously, a large chunk of dust that fills up the bin can easily be removed when you detach the dust bin, open the lid and drop the dust collected.

The plastic bin itself is good.

It’s detachable from the cyclone, and you can actually wash it with water.

But the problem is, the cyclone part itself.

When you use a brush to scrape off dust, and tap on the cyclone to get the dust out from the inside, the dust keeps falling down and it never seems to stop.

Because the dust particles are so tiny, it seems that millions of dust particles are sitting inside the cyclone at all times which never seem to clear.

Those may not be clogging the cyclone because each dust particle is so tiny, and the cyclone may still be working fine, but the fact that all these particles never seem to go away kind of bothers me.

I wish that dyson comes up with a way to clean its own cyclone itself, potentially by reversing the direction from suction to blowing mode so that it can get out all the tiny dust particles out of its cyclone system, for example.

The idea of a machine having its own cleaning mode is nothing new.

We see those in dishwashers, ovens, juicers and so on. 

An air pump to inflate an air mattress for camping has a reverse mode to deflate the mattress too.

The same concept could potentially be applied to a vacuum cleaner.

I know that this could be a big challenge to do in a vacuum cleaner because if you activate it by accident, it will be a disaster, spreading all the tiny dust into the room.

But it’s an interesting problem to solve.

Maybe it comes with a special cleaning bin that you can attach the vacuum hose onto, and only after securely attaching the special cleaning bin, a cleaning mode can be activated to blow out dust inside the cyclone to the cleaning bin.

The cleaning bin should be a simple bin that you can wash with water.

Now this might be adding another extra hardware piece.

And I’m not an engineer, so I don’t know if this is even possible from a technical point of view.

But it might be worth it if it works well.

Or they might be already working on it. Who knows?

If they solve this problem, I will be a lot happier!

As a UX designer, especially if you primarily work on digital products, it’s an interesting exercise to think about UX problems that we experience on a physical product like this.

This may seem like a trivial thing, but when you think about the end to end user experience of a vacuum cleaner, cleaning the bin, cleaning the vacuum itself is part of that larger end to end user experience.

In a way, its kind of ironical if a vacuum cleaner which is meant to clean things cannot clean itself.


Check out YouTube version too.

#40 Twelve traits of a great UX designer

Conceptual diagram showing the side A of the coin is knowledge and skill, while the side B is traits and mindset.

Many people seem to struggle to find out whether UX is the right fit for them, especially when considering a career switch from a different field. Since UX is such a large umbrella field that includes so many different disciplines within, it’s hard to understand from the outside what it’s like to be a UX designer and what makes you a good fit to pursue a career in UX.

Aside from more obvious practical knowledge and skills that you need such as UX principles, methodology and research fundamentals, there’s another side of the coin which is more about traits and mindset.

Throughout my career as a UX designer, I observed great designers and learned from them. Over time, I noticed there are 12 traits that a great UX designer has, which I’d like to share with you.


So here’s a list of 12 traits.

A conceptual diagram of 12 traits of a great UX designer
12 traits of a great UX designer
  1. Continuous learner
  2. Humble
  3. Great at collaboration
  4. Problem solver
  5. Less ego
  6. Do-er mentality
  7. Eager to experiment
  8. Curious observer
  9. Empathetic
  10. Good listener
  11. Understand how UX impacts business
  12. Good storyteller

Let’s take a closer look at each one.


1. Continuous learner

The field of UX is constantly expanding and evolving. The underlying technology is also continuously evolving. There are always so many things that you need to learn, whether a new methodology, process, technology, tools, or trends. To be a UX designer means you live through a constant stream of new information. If you love learning new things, UX gives you that exciting, never-ending opportunity to learn throughout your career.

2. Humble

User experience is something that varies from person to person. When you and I use the same product, the user experience that you have will be different from what I have.

What this means is that understanding how other people think is an essential part of UX design process. You need to be humble to be open for other people’s comments and critiques. Whether it’s positive or negative, you will learn a lot from going through this if you open up.

3. Great at collaboration

UX design is like a team sports. In today’s complex environment, most of the time a UX designer works as part of a UX team, which may consist of UX designers, UI designers and UX researchers.

A UX team is typically part of a larger product team, which consists of PM, engineering, a UX team, and potentially more.

In addition, UX designers often function as a facilitator of various different teams beyond just PM and engineering. UX designers also find themselves serve as an evangelist to educate people from other groups not familiar with UX. Especially when working as a facilitator or an evangelist, you need to be great at collaboration.

In some cases, this facilitation of multiple teams could potentially enable changes that have larger impacts to a customer’s overall journey of a product rather than the user experience of the product user interface itself. A product user interface might only be just one part of a larger end-to-end experience a customer goes through.

4. Problem solver

A UX designer solves a user’s problem. The focus should always be solving a user’s problem, rather than crafting a shinny, cool user interface, which is always very tempting. Being a problem solver also means you should be able to spot problems in the first place, and define that problem clearly in order to start solving it.

5. Less ego

The core of user-centered design practice is that a product or a service should be designed for a user, not for a UX designer. It’s so easy for UX designers to get personally attached to their own designs. It becomes your own baby. I’ve been there too. And it’s so tempting to have a personal attachment to your design, because that makes it a lot easier to put your hard work on it.

As human beings, probably it’s not possible for any of us to become completely free of our own ego. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep your ego in the background as much as possible. In order to work effectively, it becomes critical that your ego is not at the forefront.

6. Do-er mentality

As much as UX designers are thinkers, they are do-ers at its core. All the great thinking need to be distilled into a concrete, tangible output through actions. Do-er mentalitypowerfully drives this when you take all the stakeholders’ feedback and user research insights, to come up with design solutions.

7. Eager to experiment

Every single UX project is different with a countless number of variables. UX designers maneuver these and try what makes the most sense under given condition and data collected. Great UX designers are eager to experiment with new ideas, concepts, processes, methodologies to see what works and what doesn’t. To find out, you need to give it a try. Only through hands-on experiments, you’ll find the best solution for a given problem in front of you.

8. Curious observer

During usability test or user research, you need to shut your mouth, and be a curious observer carefully observing how users interact with your prototype, card sorting exercise, or whatever stimuli you may have. When you ask questions to users, people tend to answer what they think the right answer should be, rather than how they really feel. By observing how participants behave, take actions in particular ways with particular expressions and body languages, you uncover a lot of things not verbally mentioned.

When I or my colleague UX researcher conduct a user research and use a prototype created by myself as a stimulus, it’s always so tempting to interrupt a struggling user and let her know how to complete a task I gave her. But I need to control myself not to do so, so that I don’t ruin the research with my ego.

9. Empathetic

Especially when I listen to users describing their pain points when using a product or a service, I need to be empathetic so that I can put user’s shoes to really understand and feel their frustrations from their perspectives.

10. Good listener

A UX designer needs to talk to various people including users and stakeholders. I need to be a good listener when listening to PM, engineers and other people from a larger product team to understand product requirements, constraints and business context. When I listen to what users have to say during user research, it becomes even more important to focus on listening, rather than trying to show off how cool my prototype is. When I conduct a user research and ask a probing question to a participant, I often feel an urge to want to drive the conversation towards a conclusion towards my hypothesis. But I should remain patient, listen carefully, and minimize any chance of manipulation as much as possible, so that I get a quality result, not what I want to hear.

11. Understand how UX impacts business

UX designers advocate users as much as possible. What’s often been ignored is that UX is still part of business. A great UX concept that user test participants absolutely loved does not work in reality if it’s too expensive to build under a given constraints. This means UX designers need to have a good understanding of how UX impacts business, so that they don’t propose unrealistic concepts and solutions just because users loved those.

12. Good storyteller

When presenting UX concepts or user research findings to a larger product team, UX designers need to become a good storyteller without getting egoistic. At the end of the day, UX designers create user experience for users, not for themselves. This storytelling is not about promoting how great I am, or how great my UX team is, for example. Rather, it’s about how a proposed user experience solves user’s problems in a way that is realistic, effective, and delightful. The way I tell a story matters. It affects how my collaborators feel that they want to support me or not. When my storytelling is filled with so much ego, I won’t be able to get much support.


As you can see below, all these twelve traits are deeply inter-connected with each other.

A conceptual diagram of 12 traits of a great UX designer, now showing its inter-connectedness.
12 traits of a great UX designer are inter-connected with each other

Many of these can be learned and acquired, especially #11: understand how UX impacts business.

Some people might have some of these more naturally than others.

Going through these 12 traits and see if all or some of these feel natural to you or not might be helpful to picture yourself and think whether you have the right traits and mindset to become a great UX designer or not.

Having the right traits and mindset are more important than it may seem.

I used to think that traits and mindset are not so important, but I learned otherwise through my own experience. It matters a lot.


This article was also published on Medium in UX Collective.

The last half of this article and this video also touches upon this topic.

#39 Amazon’s customer service chat experience part 2

So previously I shared my experience with Amazon customer service chat.

At that time, it was for my order of a physical product.

At the end, the product arrived a few days later as the customer service chatbot suggested.

But tracking pages on both Amazon and USPS websites never showed that update, which gave me a mixed feeling.

This time though, it was about a protection plan for a device that I purchased on May 30th.

This protection plan was supposed to be delivered via email within 24 hours, because basically it was just a policy document.

But I did not receive it even after the 24 hour had passed, so I initiated a chat session on June 2nd.

Here’s how the messaging assistant responded.

Your package with this item has shipped and it’ll arrive by Fri, Jun 05.

Since it was coming from an Amazon seller who handles their own shipping, you can email them to find out next steps.

If you don’t hear back in 48 hours, come back and we can help.

This sounded as if it will be delivered physically.

Also it contradicted with what Amazon initially informed me when I was placing the order, which was that “Your protection plan documents will be delivered via email within 24 hours of purchase.”

So I asked the messaging assistant to connect to a customer service agent, a live person. 

When I described my concern to an agent, she replied me as follows:

I will send an email to the seller to send you the policy.

Your protection plan documents will be delivered via email within 24 hours of purchase. Remember to check your spam folder.

If you don’t receive it, send an email to xxx@xxxxx.com with your plan order number and they will resend.

This is their contact number. xxx-xxx-xxxx. You can reach out to them via this number. Does this help?”

So I checked my spam folder, but did not find anything.

And when she finally sent an email to the seller, I did receive an email from the seller probably triggered by the Amazon agent’s email.

And then a few minutes later, I did receive the protection plan from the seller via email.

When I asked the agent on why the messaging assistant initially gave me the wrong information, she simply said:

Please ignore that. I have verified with my leadership team. It does not deliver physically.


Since I did receive the product via email after the agent sent an email to the seller, it’s all good now.

But because I had a mixed feeling about this, 

I expressed my concern to the agent while the chat session was still on:

I’m a bit concerned about the wrong information that I got from the chatbot for my future purchases. If it’s a chatbot glitch, it should be fixed as it’s very confusing for a customer.

The customer service agent replied back:

I concur. I will pass along this information to the dedicated team. Thank you for highlighting.


Again, the reason why the chatbot initially gave me a wrong information might be just a software glitch.

But I wonder, if the chatbot was programmed intentionally to give a canned answer with an arbitrary delivery date a few days later just to ease a customer’s concern and buy some time for them without actually checking the details in their database and shipping logs.

Or simply Amazon may not have an ability to check purchased product’s delivery details for those with 3rd party sellers.

I don’t know.


Amazon’s customer service chatbot works well overall.

It’s great that you can initiate a session anytime whenever you have any issues.

Still, it seems to always give me some concerns.

And I hope that they fix these glitches, especially given that Amazon is considered  one of the most advanced tech giants with wealth of development resources.


Check out YouTube version too.

Here’s my first article on Amazon customer service chat.

#38 User experience of public restrooms

A photo of the author with an illustration showing a person exiting a restroom without washing hands.

Before this pandemic, I used to go to cafes quite often. When I did, I would do my work, read books, or just chill out, with a nice cup of coffee. When I stay at a cafe for some good amount of time, naturally I need to use a restroom. That gave me quite a bit of opportunity to experience and put my thoughts on UX of public restrooms.

From my perspective as a UX designer, public restrooms have so many UX problems that can go wrong, and it’s a really interesting opportunity space to think through user experience at various levels.

I know, it’s nothing fancy, rather disgusting in a way, right?

Public restrooms are weirdly unique spaces in a sense that it’s a private tiny space in the middle of a public area.

It’s a space where hygiene is at the front and center.

It’s also a place where your user experience is heavily affected by how a previous person used it.

A user experience of a public restroom is a combination of human behaviors, psychology, and physical interaction design.


From my cafe experiences, one of the most shocking things that I found was that many people didn’t wash their hands!

I knew that not everyone washes their hands after going to a restroom.

But I was quite shocked to witness that there were so many people who didn’t wash their hands at all!

I was only able to observe this in mens restrooms where a public sink was exposed so that I could see people not washing their hands before exiting  the room.

This scared me because some restrooms had sinks hidden inside a locked door. 

In this setup, you never know if a previous person came out the door with their clean hands or not.

I wonder if the pandemic changed people’s behaviors, now that a thorough 20 second hand wash has become an expected behavior from healthcare professional’s perspective.


Another thing that I experienced was that I came across many times with a toilet bowl where a previous person did not flush.

This is quite depressing.

But unlike hand-washing, this could be the result of technology flaw, such as auto-flush mulfunctioning, or a person flushed manually but the toilet had some mechanical flushing problem which resulted in not completely flushing the remains.

Or it could be that it did flush but the flushing power was not enough to remove everything in the toilet bowl.

But either way, if you care for the next person, you should make sure that everything is completely flushed before you leave.


In today’s pandemic situation, we are all tested whether we only care about ourselves, or we have a conscience enough to care for others.

Be it a social distancing, or wearing a mask in public, all these are not just for ourselves but for others to prevent infections.

Will people change their behaviors towards something better once the pandemic settles down?

My guess is yes to certain extent, but may have a very little effect to those who need to change the most. 

Humans are lazy. 

It’s very hard to change people’s behaviors unless there’s a huge benefit in doing so.

Which brings up this question: 

Is there anything that a user experience designer can do to change these people’s behaviors?

A user experience designer understands human psychology and human behaviors.

I don’t have an answer for it, but it’s an interesting, challenging problem to solve.

This reminds me of the urinal fly: a picture of a fly in the urinals at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

The urinal fly (source: https://worksthatwork.com/1/urinal-fly)
The urinal fly (source: https://worksthatwork.com/1/urinal-fly)

According to them, it reduces about 50% of the spillage, because many men tend to aim at this target.

The urinal fly (source: https://worksthatwork.com/1/urinal-fly)

This is a clever idea taking advantage of human behavior and psychology of men and implemented the design.

Maybe a similar line of thinking could be applied to solve hand-washing and flushing problems.  

It’s been more than two months since the last time I went to a cafe and used a public restroom.

I am curious to see how this pandemic affected people’s behaviors or not.

By the way, in this article, I touched upon hand-washing and flushing problems. But there are so many other UX problems in public restrooms too, which I might want to write at another time.


Check out YouTube version too.

Regarding a story on a different cafe experience, check out this article!