In today’s post, Aza Raskin responds to a reader’s question regarding the interface of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and a quasimodal and more humane approach to design.
Be sure to read our other interviews in our leadership series.
Aza, the following picture was taken by a friend. It is an ATM at an airport. I know the image is difficult to see, but would love your thoughts on the interface of this ATM machine.
Below is Aza’s response to this reader:
Here’s how the machines like the one in the picture normally work:
(1) Feed your card into the machine. The ATM eats the card, quarter-inch by quarter-inch.
(2) Now that the card has been read, you enter your PIN.
(3) Select how much money you want to withdraw.
(4) Take your cash.
(5) The ATM spits out your card and you take it. If you don’t take it, the machine beeps incessantly.
Despite the beeping, I have forgotten my card in such machines. The problem stems from a mode: the credit card is either in your possession, or being read by the ATM. As is almost always the case when a direct solution to a mode is required, the solution is to use a quasimode. The user should perform a kinesthetically active action while the card is being read by the machine. Such actions can be unwieldy and impractical (like pressing a foot pedal) or they can be simple and effective (like holding onto the card).
Citibank ATMs do this well — they ask you to dip or swipe your card. This forces you to be touching the card during the entire time in which the the card is being read. With the quasimodal solution, you won’t ever forget your card (unless you are foolish enough to set the card down).
Other articles in the “Ask Aza Raskin” Series: