UX Magazine

Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)
Article No. 569 October 18, 2010

UX, Bathrooms, and Mad Men

What comes to mind when you think about the 1960s? Politically incorrect cultural norms, awkward design elements, or clunky product experiences designed for the interests of big businesses instead of end users? Or do you just think of Don Draper with a glass of scotch?

Inspired by Mad Men, the Bathroom Blogfest community, consisting of over 30 bloggers focused on user, reader, customer, patient and other experiences, invites you to look back, compare and contrast, and highlight experience designs that are stuck in the '60s. The goal is create online conversation about the user experience and improve it.

The 2010 Bathroom Blogfest, now in its fifth year, takes place the last week in October. During that time, bloggers write about the importance of bathrooms in the customer experience. Their posts encompass perspectives ranging from sociology, marketing, research, psychology, the environment, to customer experience and UX design.

Why bathrooms? Bathrooms are symbolic of purposely overlooked or unmentioned spaces that are ignored, forgotten, and not cared for. But at the same time, they are necessary.

Think of your own expectations. What are your minimum requirements for cleanliness and efficiency from public bathrooms in museums, gas stations, restaurants, hospitals, and retail stores? How do you react when those expectations are taken to new heights or dashed into the ditch? How have those experiences affected your perception of the establishments you patronize?

Although positive experiences exist, many simply disappoint. Beyond the physical and human inconvenience, the lack of bathroom attention communicates negative messages to those very people whom we are trying to impress. Blatant disrespect, disregard for details and unwillingness to even attempt to understand what matters to customers don’t build long-term relationships!

Extrapolating from the analog to the digital world, what bathrooms—important but ignored experiences—have you encountered? Which ones seem hopelessly stuck in the '60s? Here’s some additional food for thought from Xianhang Zhang, writing for Quora: What’s the Difference Between UI Design and UX Design?

Will you join in on Bathroom Blogfest 2010 and create discussion around bathrooms, or any other similarly forgotten space? Isn’t it time for the user experience to become unstuck from the '60s?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

User Profile

Christine B. [C.B.] Whittemore, chief organization & inspiration officer for the yearly Bathroom Blogfest, is also chief simplifier of Simple Marketing Now LLC, a marketing communications consultancy. She has been immersed socially and digitally since 2006 when she launched her first blog, Flooring The Consumer, about the customer retail experience. She blogs about social media & content marketing on Simple Marketing Blog. Christine obtained an MBA in Marketing from Columbia Business School and a BA in Art History from Smith College. Follow her on Twitter at @cbwhittemore.

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Comments

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Speaking of UX and bathrooms:

Of Toilets, Monsters, and Magic:
http://www.exprimamedia.com/of-toilets-monsters-and-magic/

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Gracias a ti, Mori. Me encanta tratar de leer tu articulo.

Saludos,

Christine

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Julian, that is quite preposterous! Talk about pressure. Thanks for sharing.

Best,

CB

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Hi there!!!
I just recently wrote an article about usability and bathrooms.. how we might compare them (its in spanish, but simple) I hope you enjoy it...

http://morifranco.blogspot.com/2010/10/la-usabilidad-en-el-escusado.html

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I heard that in one of the firsts missions to the space, the NASA engeneer team did not put a bathroom in the ship and about one hour before the land off, the astronaut peed the space dress because there were no time to go to the bathroom in the control tower.

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I heard that in one of the firsts missions to the space, the NASA engeneer team did not put a bathroom in the ship and about one hour before the land off, the astronaut peed the space dress because there were no time to go to the bathroom in the control tower.