Hi, I’m Mike, a researcher, and a designer. And I really love the things I do at work.

It’s so interesting to investigate some small details of our world deeper, try to understand the structure of common things, and watch how people live and contact everyday products and life tools.

I relocated to Prague from Kyiv 4 months ago and, to be honest, Ukraine is not the country with the best solutions.

A lot of my friends and even my family asked me what was the reason for my relocation. I think that there is more than one reason. I can tell for sure that one of them is great usability of everyday things that we can see everywhere in Europe. And now I’ll tell you about some of my favorite ones.

design is a design that does not exist for the user but solves his problems. All designers know that. And we can find examples everywhere. Let’s start with a machine for beer bottles.

What is its role? You are right, to buy user’s bottles. And it does. And nothing more. Just one hole to put the bottle in (actually two but it does not matter in this case), one button to let the system know when the finish point is, and one small screen to show the final fee (btw this information is not so important, so we can make this machine even easier). So, the users don’t need to think what they should do and how it works. They just do a couple moves and get the result.

And it’s so simple to create things that are so easy for understanding and useful for users. We just need to try to walk in a user’s shoes and think what should be the next step that will be done by a user.

But there are so many easier examples we can find everywhere.

We can put bubbled plastic on the bottom of a box with berries (or something that you don’t want to damage) and you can keep them in a good condition while transporting.

Or if you create a safety wall to avoid people fell down from the roof do a hole to watch a panorama or take a picture. Even if it’s made of glass (because it could be warm or dirty).

And now I want to talk about public transport.

Millions of people use it every day. Even more than twice a day. And all these people are so different and with different previous experience and time limits. Some of them are locals and know their way perfect. Other just came to the city and need some time to explore a ticket system and stops. So, it is a quite complicated task to create good solutions and a navigation system for all these types. I like to pay attention to such small details every time I visit another city. But now I’ll tell you about public transport in Prague because I think that it’s really cool.

I want to talk about navigation. As a UX researcher, I know that you need to spend a huge amount of time if you want to create good navigation. What is a good navigation system? It’s when the user gets the answer before asking a question. And it’s definitely about Prague.

You can get all information about streets and public transport on each exit from a subway. And in a list, you’ll find not only the nearest spots but even far but well-known spots that will help you to understand the side of an exit.

There is one more task for the designers who create a navigation system for public transport: to avoid people who are hurry to be stopped by people who are trying to find the right train. But I have a couple examples how do Czech designers did it.

The station exits locate in two ends of the stations (not always but usually). But the line map locates in the middle of each station. So, one group of users just bypass another one.

One more example I’ve found while transferring from one to another subway lines.

Transfer locates in the middle of the station. There are two escalators that deliver people into two different tunnels: one for exit another for entrance, so it lets people that are moving in different directions don’t even see each other. But there are small transit exits if you understand that you are moving in the wrong direction, so you can easily go back.

And even more. You’ll understand it very quickly because there are navigation lines with information about a final direction in each tunnel.

And a couple more small details:

  • A light line on a platform that shows the edge of a platform and starts twinkling when the train is arriving
  • (It’s not in Prague but does it matters?) the special print on the seats for senior and invalid people to let people quickly see their role.
  • There is a small square near the name of each subway station. The color of a square is the same as the color of a subway line. It helps people quickly recognize where are they now. Even more. There are two more squares of another line color if it is a transfer station.

There are so many such great solutions around us so I can write about them a whole life. But I just want to let you pay attention to such solutions and try to think deeper next time when you’ll be creating something for people (and for animals as well).

Let’s do great things together.

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