by Aaron Rikower on 10/11/11 at 7:42 am
People use automated teller machines (ATM) everyday all over the world. But some of these ATMs cause users to make errors that could cost them more than they can bargain for.
Hundreds if not thousands of ATM users forget their credit cards at the ATMs in Argentina. Why? Because most users leave once they get their cash, and many ATMs give users their cash first before they get their credit card back. If users are in a rush or have other concerns on their mind, such as keeping their kids waiting in the car or being late to the movies, they will easily take the money and leave.
ATMs can easily prevent this user error by rearranging the task flow. In Israel, the ATMs give you the credit card first and then the money. They know you won’t leave until you get the money, so they make sure you have done every single step of the task before they leave you satisfied. This simple change in the task flow saved millions of dollars in all the work related to lost credit cards.
The general take away from this is that the task’s success should not depend on the users’ memory. The application flow should lead the user through the essential steps to ensure satisfaction and prevent errors. A more specific insight is that the user tends to perceive the task as done once he achieved his desired goal. Additional steps beyond this point is irrelevant, so make sure that the user has done everything they need to do before you give them their result. This prevents users from abandoning their task before it’s complete, and ends their task on a high note.