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How To (Re)Design an ATM

In the fall of 2005, Wells Fargo hired a design firm to redesign the user interface on their ATMs. The old design was deemed clunky, partly because it had to deal with two kinds of machines: those with touchscreens, and those with buttons along the left and right sides of the screen. The new design would work only on the touchscreen models, introducing a new flexibility in layout and interaction design.

Designer Holger Struppek recounts his experience on the redesign project in his excellent article, That design is money! A better ATM experience from Wells Fargo. The article covers a series of anecdotes about designing a better ATM experience, which astounds me for two reasons: first, that an ATM experience can be good; and second, that the ATM screenshots shown in the piece actually exist in the wild (it's like banking in the not-too-distant future. I'm not a Wells Fargo customer, but this ATM design is tempting...my bank is still stuck in the 80's, apparently. Here's a sample from Struppek's article:

A great feature of the Wells Fargo ATM UI has always been the Quick Cash button. It allows you to quickly withdraw an often-used amount from your checking account with the press of one button. There is no need to go through the steps of selecting an account, selecting an amount, and confirming the transaction. However, few people knew that this feature could be customized with a different amount and account. The functionality was always there, but it required pressing the My ATM Preferences button, followed by a tedious multi-step procedure to change the settings.

We thought that the new UI could be better than that. Instead of just offering generic choices and complicated customization procedures, the ATM should learn by itself what individual customers do most often, and then make those things easier to accomplish.

The new UI still offers the Quick Cash feature, but in a much smarter way. Instead of one Quick Cash button, we introduced a whole column of shortcut buttons that behave somewhat like the History menu in a web browser. It is still possible to customize them through Set My ATM Preferences, but hardly necessary since they always reflect the most recent transactions.

Read the rest for an interesting story on user interface design.

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History
The Queen of Code: Remembering Grace Hopper
By Lynn Gilbert, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was a computing pioneer. She coined the term "computer bug" after finding a moth stuck inside Harvard's Mark II computer in 1947 (which in turn led to the term "debug," meaning solving problems in computer code). She did the foundational work that led to the COBOL programming language, used in mission-critical computing systems for decades (including today). She worked in World War II using very early computers to help end the war. When she retired from the U.S. Navy at age 79, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the service. Hopper, who was born on this day in 1906, is a hero of computing and a brilliant role model, but not many people know her story.

In this short documentary from FiveThirtyEight, directed by Gillian Jacobs, we learned about Grace Hopper from several biographers, archival photographs, and footage of her speaking in her later years. If you've never heard of Grace Hopper, or you're even vaguely interested in the history of computing or women in computing, this is a must-watch:

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Google
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Animals
Watch Christmas Island’s Annual Crab Migration on Google Street View
Google
Google

Every year, the 45 million or so red crabs on the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island migrate en masse from their forest burrows down to the ocean to mate, and so the female crabs can release their eggs into the sea to hatch. The migration starts during the fall, and the number of crabs on the beach often peaks in December. This year, you don’t have to be on Christmas Island to witness the spectacular crustacean event, as New Atlas reports. You can see it on Google Street View.

Watching the sheer density of crabs scuttling across roads, boardwalks, and beaches is a rare visual treat. According to the Google blog, this year’s crabtacular finale is forecasted for December 16, and Parks Australia crab expert Alasdair Grigg will be there with the Street View Trekker to capture it. That is likely to be the day when crab populations on the beaches will be at their peak, giving you the best view of the action.

Crabs scuttle across the forest floor while a man with a Google Street View Trekker walks behind them.
Google

Google Street View is already a repository for a number of armchair travel experiences. You can digitally explore remote locations in Antarctica, recreations of ancient cities, and even the International Space Station. You can essentially see the whole world without ever logging off your computer.

Sadly, because Street View isn’t live, you won’t be able to see the migration as it happens. The image collection won’t be available until sometime in early 2018. But it’ll be worth the wait, we promise. For a sneak preview, watch Parks Australia’s video of the 2012 event here.

[h/t New Atlas]

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