An ATM has a small, finite number of possible operations. At its most complicated, a machine can accept withdrawls, deposits, transfers, give balance information, and dispense stamps.
To accomplish this, ATMs have about eight buttons and a keypad.
Yet, to me, the experience of using an ATM is usually clunky. It’s as if the interface is too simple.
But if an ATM wasn’t so brain-dead easy to use, more users might make mistakes. In most interactions with computers, it’s not a big deal to do something wrong. On the web, you just click the back button. When it comes to our money, we want to avoid even mistakes that don’t matter.
Why aren’t we striving for that kind of clarity in all our interfaces? Probably for the same reason we don’t type using a joy stick to select letters on a virtual keyboard. Sometimes an interface is too simple.
Since it is so easy for me to grab forty bucks, it still has me admiring how much an ATM can do with so little. Do I sound split on this? I am. So, I find myself asking two questions:
- What can the Web learn from ATMs?
- What can ATMs learn from the Web?