redesign | UX: A human-centric approach to design is what makes this page great

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Easy passwords

There are a couple of things that I really like about this site.

The first is the use of easy, human readable passwords. Where some companies use complex order numbers, sometimes 20 or more random alphanumeric characters, this site uses words that will stick in your head. What would you rather say to a customer service agent: miffed-wispy-crab or JKS421DA9oC?

Continue reading “redesign | UX: A human-centric approach to design is what makes this page great”

redesignAnswer: The trapezoidal package contained an iMac



From Skitch (3)


This package contained an iMac.

There are two things wrong with this packaging:

  • The trapezoidal shape doesn’t stack or fit well in delivery trucks.
  • Very few packages come in a trapezoidal shape. Thieves are more likely to notice this and assume that it contains a high-value item. (And they’d be right a large portion of the time.)

redesignAnswer: My first transaction on Amazon was for $300

Amazon local balance

In testing the new Amazon Local Register yesterday, my first transaction was for $300.

Amazon didn’t make any money on this transaction. (Nor will they make money on a lot of the transactions on Amazon Local Register at the 1.75% rate.)

There was a mistake in the original image of my transaction. (Sort of.) I needed to show the card and the original load value, so I made the card facing forward. In order for it to actually read the card, the mag stripe needs to be facing the camera.


redesignAnswer: The Square/PayPal charge was to cash out balance on PayPal debit card

The purpose of the transaction on Friday was to use up the remaining value of a PayPal debit card that I had purchased for test purposes. The PayPal debit card is a poor value compared with products like Walgreens Balance Financial and American Express’s Bluebird. T-Mobile customers also have a better value with T-Mobile’s prepaid card.

PayPal charges a monthly fee of $5. Rather than paying another fee, I decided to use up the remaining balance by charging myself with Square.

The total transaction amount was $3.75. Square did not make a profit on the transaction. (Come on, you know me! Did you really think I’d let Square make a profit?)

A number of people commented that I made a mistake by leaving my debit card number in plain view. I don’t make such mistakes. My credit card numbers in social media are like sideboob on TV: you think you’re seeing something, but you’re not. If you see a credit or debit card number, it’s a clue. (In this case, a clue that there was no money on the card.)

redesignAnswer: If you’re selling birthday candles, put matches or a lighter nearby

photo (10)


This is another question that got a variety of interesting answers.

What I was going for is to put matches or lighters near the candles. If you’re rushing to get party supplies, you want the toothpicks that say “Happy Bday,” candles, balloons … and something to light the candles with. There isn’t even a note that says where the matches are. I had to find someone to tell me they were all the way on the other side of the store.

Other comments from the survey:

  • The items are pushed back. They should be close to the front of the peg.
  • There is no alignment among the different items.
  • Candles are on two pegs. But the top peg is clearly intended for something else. At $1.57 vs. $2.79, people would be upset.
  • Green is an ugly color for a background.

Although the focus of the question was on the retail display, I’d also fix the packaging/bundling.

For the candles, I’d include a few matches. Maybe use the back of the card for a striker.

The sparklers (the black things) look ridiculous and boring. From a distance, you have no idea what they are. I’d have a background with sparkles on it.

Our Victor Marks writes:

Use planogram software that reflects the actual size of items on the peg. The black item is taller and throws the whole display off. Also, don’t put pegs up so high that they ruin your header decoration (party)


redesignAnswer: There’s no reason for Walgreens to put gift cards behind the counter

From Skitch


There is a lot wrong with this display. But the biggest thing is that there’s no reason to put all of those gift cards behind the counter.

Gift cards are worth nothing until they are activated. There’s no reason to put them in a “secure” area. Many of these are impulse purchases. They should be placed somewhere prominent (endcaps are the most frequent placement) so people can browse them and find just the right gift card for the person they are buying for. Cigarettes and other high value items should be behind the counter; not things that have no inherent value.

Other things that are wrong with this display:

  • It looks like a cluttered mess.
  • There’s no discernible organization to the gift cards.
  • From a visual perspective, having the ToysRUs gift card hanging off on an acrylic shelf is ugly.
  • There’s a sign saying that gift cards are cash only. Walgreens POS is programmed to let store gift cards be sold by credit card.

This is among the worst Walgreens that I’ve been to. The overall merchandising at this store is poor.

Most are much nicer. Walgreens also does a great job at picking the right merchandise for each location — much better than most retailers.

redesignAnswer: What’s the simplest way to improve this Amazon GC?

This is the kind of question that I love because it draws a lot of answers, many of which are valid.

The answer I was thinking of was to make it easy to scan. Supposedly the Amazon app can scan real world objects. But Amazon requires you to manually enter the claim code. You should be able to scan a bar code or QR code to automatically apply the code to your account after logging in. OCR technology is also good enough that you should be able to scan the text as printed.

Amazon has a wide range of gift card products. Some of the responses focused on emailing gift cards and doing things electronically. Amazon already does that.

But Amazon also offers gift cards at retail and through incentive programs. This particular gift card was received through a credit card rewards program. I’m not exactly sure what the magnetic stripe is for, because I can’t swipe it on my computer. My best guess is that it’s for activation.

This particular card doesn’t have the scratch off; cards sold at retail do. (There used to be gift card fraud where crooks would copy down activation codes and wait for them to be activated.)

Some of the other great answers:

  • Print the card on card stock so it can be recycled or biodegrade. Whole Foods does this with their gift cards. I’ve seen other gift cards made of a plasticky corn based product.
  • Use all alphabetic characters. The intermingling of numbers and letters makes entering the code on mobile devices especially hard because you have to toggle between keyboards.
  • Make the print of the redemption code larger so that older folks or folks with vision issues can more easily read it.

Victor: iTunes already does this, making it easy to redeem Starbucks app and song of the week codes.

redesignAnswer: Why is the back of the subway stairs protected with an enclosure?



The enclosure (or similar structure) behind this subway staircase is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 for all public buildings and some private residences; it protects commuters with visual impairments from injuring themselves on the underside of a protruding object. In the absence of the enclosure, a blind commuter would bump into the staircase head-first before her cane made contact with an obstacle. Incidentally, it also protects those of us who walk and text simultaneously. (This does not constitute an admission of guilt on the part of the author!) Some subway stations have a storage closet built under the stairs; this station keeps it simple with a bare-minimum railing.

Bonus point if you guessed the station–It is Jay St.-Metrotech on the A/C/F lines.

— Sara

Rocky’s comments:

I didn’t get this answer correct. My answer — and the answer of a lot of people — was that it is there to prevent perverts from looking up skirts or kilts.

Another guess I had was that it would keep snow and ice from shoes from going through the stair case and creating slippery puddles below.

Subways often have little yellow bumps at the edge of the platform (seen toward the right above) to help the visually impaired. This is called tactile paving.

One of the goals of redesign mobile is to push for the design of products for people of all abilities. Victor got this answer immediately. As the father of an autistic child, he’s especially passionate about designing products for people of all abilities.


redesignAnswer: A small change lets @penfed make a lot more money on credit cards

The question: why did PenFed send me a new Visa without asking?

photo (5)


The key to this puzzle is noticing the different words below Visa. In one case, it is “Platinum”. In another it’s “Signature.”

The interchange rates for Signature cards are substantially higher than for Platinum cards. The issuing bank can make a lot more on transactions simply by “upgrading” the customer to Signature. This is virtually no cost, aside from re-issuing the cards. There are a bunch of services that come with Signature status (like concierge), but these are low-use services of marginal value.

For people in the payments industry, this should be an easy-to-moderate puzzle. (1 person in the industry answered correctly.) For people outside of payments, this was a hard puzzle.

A few things that came up a lot in the answers:

  • Because Signature has the ability to charge above the limit people might be inclined to charge more. But the no preset spending limit thing is an attempt to copy AmEx cards. It’s also mostly marketing — you rarely get to charge much more.
  • Some others said that the lack of raised numbers is a security feature and the reason for re-issuance. It’s a marginal benefit and not something that banks would not spend money to re-issue cards en masse for.

redesignAnswer: The easiest, most productive way to improve @Uber screen is…

… to add the color of the vehicle.

Having the picture of the driver, type of vehicle or license plate number isn’t useful when you’re trying to spot the car from a block and a half way.

You can see color from a block and a half or two blocks. (Depending on the size of the blocks, of course.) If you’re well versed in vehicle models, you might be able to see it from half a block or a block. (Unless it’s a Prius, of which there are many.) You certainly can’t read the license plate until the driver is a few feet away.

The driver’s picture is useless until the driver is right in front of you. Maybe when the driver is within 10-20 feet, the map and the vehicle info zooms into a picture of the driver.

Putting the color of the vehicle would be a huge improvement.

It would make it easer:

  • For passengers to find their driver.
  • Get passengers to hold their phone out or otherwise signal the driver.

It would also prevent incidents like what happened to me on Sunday — the driver sped past me at at least 30 mph. And then backed up several hundred feet in one-way traffic. Clearly unacceptable in my book.

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