Good And Bad Design

Good Design: The MTA MetroCard Vending Machine

New York’s iconic ticket vending machines, designed by Antenna Design and featured in the Museum of Modern Art, have always delighted the design appreciator in me.

MTA Vending Machine
  • Clear digital and physical mapping: The mappings inherent to the interface and physical structure strongly contribute to the machine’s usability.

Touch screen – Black

Cash & coins section – Green

Metro Card section – Yellow

Credit/ATM Card Section – Blue

Change/ Receipt – Red

  • Instant feedback: Every press of an on-screen button results in an immediate change in screen state (like flashing effect and moving texts to the top menu bar), letting users know that their inputs are resulting in actions.
  • Low risk of making mistakes: Various slots each have unmistakable physical clues for how to operate the machine. Insertion areas for ATM cards, MetroCards, and bills all feature distinctive shapes that do not permit the accidental insertion of the wrong object. The coin slot is designed to accept only coins. The receipts fall into a compartment with a hinged outer door, which clearly permits dispensing as opposed to insertion. There’s also an image of showing which direction we should insert the metrocard in for refill.

Bad Design: The Washington DC MetroCard Vending Machine

  • So much information on one machine, no hierarchy, overwhelming to userS. Ticket buyers are confronted with an overwhelming amount of information yielding an unguided flow of user interaction, causing traffic jams at the machines.

  • Price chart hard to read, causing back up at the machines.
  • Does not have multiple language options
  • New farecard amounts automatically start at $20.00, users have to manually adjust the price in the window to the fare and click all the way down to the price they want.


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