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UX, Bathrooms, and Mad Men

by Christine B. Whittemore
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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?

post authorChristine B. Whittemore

Christine B. Whittemore,

Christine B. Whittemore is Chief Simplifier of Simple Marketing Now LLC, a marketing communications consultancy that helps organizations better connect with customers through social media and content marketing.

Formerly Director of In-Store Innovation for Solutia’s Wear-Dated carpet fiber, Christine has been active in the social media space since June 2006 when she launched her marketing blog, Flooring The Consumer, about the customer retail experience, marketing to women and social media marketing. It is ranked in the AdAge Marketing Power 150 Blogs and listed on AllTop.

She also writes the Simple Marketing Now Blog, a Junta42 Top 42 Content Marketing Blog and an eCairn Top 150 Social Media Marketing Blog, about marketing with social media and content.

Since 2006, Whittemore has embraced the yearly Bathroom Blogfest, when bloggers from around the globe come together to write about the importance of bathrooms in the customer experience. As chief organization & inspiration officer for the event, she ensures that the event encompasses perspectives ranging from sociology, marketing, research, psychology, environmental, customer experience, and user experience design.

Whittemore is a columnist for Floor Covering Weekly where she writes about the customer retail experience. She contributes to MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute and is a frequent speaker on the topic of customer experience and marketing with social media.

Christine serves on the Columbia Business School’s Alumni Club of New York Board of Directors and is a member of the Surfaces Education Advisory Council. She earned her undergraduate degree from Smith College and her MBA from Columbia University.

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