Typical: of course the ticket machine chooses a busy time to go wrong. In Oxford station, queues were forming at a machine that refused to display Network Railcard as a valid railcard. The woman at the front of the queue tried for quite some time to make it work, then gave up and sought assistance. I was eavesdropping on her conversation with James, a busy member of station staff, when I got to the front of my own queue and encountered an identical problem. Soon it became clear that all the ticket machines had the same issue: refusing to display Network Railcard as an option.
I wrote earlier this week about boycotts and the pervasive idea that they “don’t work”. I hope I’ve explained why that’s the wrong way to think about your choices; you can’t punish Nestle or Vodafone by withholding your custom, but where you spend your money should still matter to you.
So boycotts are fashionable again. I’ve been boycotting Starbucks since the early Noughties because of their aggressive business tactics; now I’m joined in that boycott by hordes of people who are unhappy because of the company’s attitude to tax. Now I know how Michaela Strachan felt when statement earrings came back into fashion: pleased, slightly righteous, and tempted to shout “I was doing it first!” a lot.
Designing a train ticket website? If the usability is poor, I might buy the wrong ticket. Designing an online booking system? Bad usability could lead to a lot of confusion and unnecessary phone calls. Designing a medical device? Bad usability could kill someone.
When I see that I’ve got a voicemail, my heart sinks. I will put off listening to a voicemail in a way I would never, ever do with a text message or an email. Because listening to it is a chore in a way that reading a text never is. And that’s because most voicemails fall into a few specific categories:
OMG isn’t it crazy that a machine is really recording my voice?! Can you hear me? Oh wow. I don’t know what to say, but um, this is great. Maybe I should sing you a song?