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Usability observation

Warning: most people reading this probably won't be interested. Turn back now!

So I used the semi-automated checkout at Price Chopper today. It was interesting, and I noticed some things about it I hadn't really noticed before.
  • The customer interface is designed for people who have never used it before - there's no way to speed up the process if you're an expert

  • after asking the cashier, he said: "it's not easier, but I like it better. I get to deal with people this way, not just with the groceries." I find it interesting that it's NOT easier for the cashiers.

  • When anything goes wrong, there's no indication to the customer what the problem might be. "Please take the last item back out of the bag." WTF? What did I do wrong? There's also quite a few types of errors. And every error requires the intervention of the cashier.

  • One thing I did like: they recently added a code list for un-UPC'ed items (like fruit), so the cashier doesn't always have to help with those items (for the more clued-in customer)

It occurs to me that whoever designed this system probably had to design three interfaces for it. One for the customers, one for the cashier, and one for the maintainer of the system. I really wish I could do a more formalised usability study on this system.

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amymarr July 15th, 2002
Actually, I was interested in this. Call me crazy...

Once you have transportation, or someday when you can hitch a ride with someone, you should try the auto checkout at Stop N Shop in West Boyleston take Goldstar Blvd. like you're going to O'Connor's and it'll be on the right after 99). The system, including the interface, works MUCH better, and most if not all of the things you complain about Ghetto Chopper's version are fixed in this one.

I especially like the graphical interface for weighing produce...

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