User experience, n.: User experience (UX) refers to a person’s emotions and attitudes about using a particular product, system or service. – Wikipedia
You can’t swing a cat in the software world without hitting a software person talking about UX – user experience.
And that’s probably a good thing. More and more parts of our lives have shifted to the web, so thank your lucky stars (and your friendly neighborhood UX designer) that these things both work and feel good to use.
Of course, the march towards the all-time perfection of user experience continues. There’s even a whole site dedicated to the smallest details of design that improve user experience, called “Little Big Details.” They look around the web for great examples of how designers and engineers make little adjustments and details that have an outsized impact on how users experience products.
But while user experience thinking has a secure seat in the software innovation pantheon, it’s not often you see large companies getting really creative in “meatspace.”
Today I was driving from my work in Atlanta (where the team spends a lot of time thinking about these big little details) when I pulled into a Racetrac.
It’s clear that this station understands UX better than most of its contemporaries. From its gleaming, modern, spacious feel to the automatic, clean coffee makers, the shop has a solid user experience. But honestly, I didn’t really think about UX until I was washing my hands in the restroom. That’s when I saw this:
The little funny caption there (there was another on the men’s bathroom door) was a completely gratuitous gift of humor to the restroom user. And as such, it passes muster in my opinion for a Little Big Detail – albeit not on a website, but (of all places) at a gas station.
Hat tip to Racetrac for getting ahead of the curve. I strongly suspect they are hiring talent from the digital technology world, bringing that same energy for user experience design to the very analog experience of the gas station. I expect we will see even more incursions from UX-minded designers in “meatspace” in the next few years.