Jason Bell
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A collection of blog posts, hopefully slightly less cringe-y than Live Journal, and who knows, perhaps they’re entertaining.

Putting the User in the Centre of the City

At the initial time of writing this it is 1.30am and I have to leave for work in 6 hours. The jetlag is a result of our recent trip to the bright lights of Las Vegas, delays and the most turbulence I've ever experienced.

 

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We decided to go last minute after a really upsetting end to the year and visit the adult playground to cheer ourselves up. Whilst there I couldn't help but take in some of the design choices of the city and its many many casinos, some of it appeared bright and fun whilst some of the features could appear creepy.

 

As a big supporter of nudge theory and user centric design I decided to share some of what I found whilst we were there.

 

User Centered Slot Machines

Worried that you spend too long at the slots and your phone will run out of battery? Well worry no more, you can now play the slots, feeding in your bills and like your cousin's posts on Facebook all day! How you ask? Slot machines with multiple easily accessible USB points. Not only that, but the some machines even have little perches for your phone so it can stand up and charge at the same time.

 

You may find it insidious, immoral or even exploitative, but the casino's aim is to take as much money as possible, by making users feel at home and rested they're going to have relaxed patrons. A relaxed patron will spend more money than those worrying about their phone’s battery.

 

Unburdensome Urinals

When using a urinal on a night out it can be difficult to juggle everything and you sure as hell don’t want to put your drink on the disturbingly wet floor. Enter not one, but two shelves and modesty curtains, long slats poking out for privacy whilst you piss.

 

One shelf was quite clearly for a drink whilst the other one left me perplexed, but then I got it. It's for chips and slips.

 

Why let simple urination ruin your winning streak? Take comfort in that you can leave the table with both hands full and return without worrying about dampening your luck.

 

Audience Engagement

Back to the slots again and after visiting Vegas (look at me being all familiar) a couple of times it struck me that the machines seemed a little, well dated. Then it hit me, the machines are supposed to evoke warm nostalgia of targeted generations. Machines are clustered together in zones of agglomeration to entice gamblers to sit and spend.

 

The Big Bang Theory machine proudly blazes “Bazinga!” across the room but only includes the four nerds and Penny. Orange is the New Black’s façade shows characters from season one who haven't been in for years (looking at you Pornstache). The Batman machine is Christian Bale, Titanic is still a thing (I guess it's down to Celine Dion’s residency) and the face of Gene Wilder is everything where you can win your dreams with Wonka.

 

These machines are aimed at young professionals and those with disposable incomes. There aren't licenses for video games or new movies, not a Marvel machine in sight, but culture targeted towards Millennials rules. After all, you're more likely to give warm friendly Homer Simpson who you've grown up with a dollar for a quip than a faceless machine.

 

Cold in the Desert

We were told it would be cold in the desert. It was not. It was 16 degrees most days. Definite t-shirt weather for me, however there were heat lamps on at every outside bar.

 

People anticipated being hot in the desert and despite it being warm to mild they were going to get the heat, where one of course could imbibe a deliciously cold AMERICAN beer. Alongside that you could also eat some delicious fried salty goods, which in turn would increase thirst, and yes, of course in some bars/stores alcohol was cheaper than water, because why not?

 

Con Air

Air con. Air con everywhere. This wasn't about keeping patrons cool, it was about maintaining a pleasant environment for smokers and non-smokers inside. Smoking in public places has been banned for over a decade now in the UK and it felt generally weird walking around to see so many people smoking inside.

 

The air con works for two audiences - to keep the environment clear and pleasant for non-smokers and also to keep smoking patrons inside, where they can spend more money of course. Instead of dividing customer bases, casinos united them. Smoking culture was also shown to be classy with cigar stalls popped up along every concourse. The cigar they were advertising, Churchill's favourite of course. 'cause you too, can be classy like a wartime prime minister.

 

Viva User Design

There we go, a few things I found on my trip but all logical and user centered design choices. Things were created to determine behaviour and yield desirable results for the financially invested stakeholders. These nudges and intentionality work. Hopefully these examples help illustrate how important behavioural design is and products and services are created with users at the heart of them.

Jason Bell