Thursday, February 10, 2005

The UX of Hotel Showers

UXCentricity ain't all about the Web, although that tends to be the focus here.

F'rinstance, my wife and I are planning a cycling trip in the great American Southwest. After cycling 50 miles or so, you really want (and need) a good hot shower. Unfortunately, hotel showers leave a lot to be desired—perfectly expressed by Doc Searls' "9th Law:"
There's something wrong with all hotel showers. The shower head is too low, or doesn't work right such as when it "saves" water by atomizing it, so the best it can do is bathe you in a kind of steam that achieves room temperature by the time it reaches your ass, even if water coming out of the shower head straight into your bald spot is hot enough to strip wallpaper. The controls have a cryptic UI or require the hands of a safecracker to operate. The water temperature changes without warning. The curtain wants to hug your body for no reason, or allows a gallon of water to escape and soak the floor. Worst, of course, are the bathrooms with fans so loud you can't hear yourself think.
What is it about showers that hotels don't understand? Showers are a big part of the hotel user's overall experience. Experiences like Doc's cast a blot on the entire hotel chain.

The sad state of hotel showers is an apt illustration of why true UXCentricity must leave no experiential stone unturned.

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