Did you know that there have been studies on the usability of ATMs? In one case, an ATM design company figured out that most customers simply wanted to withdraw cash from the machines. From this the company decided to make it super-easy for a customer to perform this one major function. The other functions were still there, but the entire design was built around making it easy to withdraw cash.

The major finding of another study* was that there is a high correlation between ATM interface aesthetics and how easy people felt it was to use the system.

Lesson: aesthetics are important because they relate to perceptions on ease of use. Design the major function first and fill in details around that so the major function is always the first and foremost thing a user interprets. The application to maps? Pretty obvious?

If this topic interests you head on over to Users Fix Parking Ticket Machine Interface Themselves.

*Kurosu, M. and Kashimura, K. Determinants of the Apparent Usability, Proceedings of IEEE SMC, (1995), 1509- 1513.
Also confirmed by Noam Tractinsky in Aesthetics and Apparent Usability: Empirically Assessing Cultural and Methodological Issues.

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