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Why I hate Argos

Why I hate Argos.

So, I’m sure Argos is fine for some people and maybe other stores are ok but my experience has never been what I want it to be.
What I mean by that is that I’ve never visited an Argos and not felt like I was bumbling through the whole experience as opposed to knowing exactly what I needed to do.
So we’re on the same page when I talk through my visit; below is a not to scale map of my local store.
So I walk in and the catalogues are on my right. Till’s to my left and collection point directly ahead. There are signs from the ceilings to label these but the message gets lost in with all the promotional signs and adverts for things. So straight away there’s no obvious place that I should start but because im familiar with the store (from years of growing up circling my Christmas wish in the Argos catalogue) I know where I need to go.
I flick through the catalogue and find the item I need and write the number down on the little sheet. Again this is a process that was essentially taught from my parents and not something the store makes obvious that you need to do.
Next I have to queue of pay for my item. The queue is fairly long but that can’t really be helped. I pay and am given a ticket to collect my item. Now here is where the frustration really starts. I then have to go back through the shop, where I’ve just been, to get to the collection point. I arrive at the collection point and try and figure out if I should be at point A, B or C. These sections seem an arbitrary distinction as the products all seem to come form the same place and the same staff member is handing them to the customers. My number is quite far down the list and so another wait is needed. But there’s no queue system at the collection point. There’s a few chairs and a waiting area but no organisation. So I’m not sure where to stand or sit and if it even matters. I don’t know who’s first in the queue and how far down the list I am.
After a time my number is called. I collect my items and leave. Feeling a little lost and confused.
My issue is that there was no progress to the experience. After queuing to pay there was no fulfilment in completing that process. I was just made to queue again and this time with even less indication of how long for. It felt like a step backwards with added confusion of trying to figure out the stores internal organisation of collection point sections which had no real impact on how I got my product.
I know there’s ways where you can reserve online and then swagger in and collect your items but to me, Argos is a high street store and if I was gonna order it online I’d just get it delivered.
The question is then, what would I do to improve the experience.
I would make the experience more like checking in at an airport.
When you’re at an airport (at least a fairly well designed one) there’s obvious progress indicators through the process. You can feel yourself getting closer (physically and mentally) to the goal (boarding the plane) And generally it’s easy to see what the next step that needs to be completed.
I would redesign the store so that the tills allowed you to pass through into the waiting area as opposed to having to go back where you started.
I did a quick mock up of what I think it should look like.
This gives me (the customer) an obvious path to take. The customer is basically just going around the store in an anti-clockwise circle. Nice and simple. It also allowed for a larger waiting area and a larger ‘random items’ section. I’ve not changed anything too drastic here. I’ve basically just rearranged the furniture but with the user in mind.
So yeah. That’s my rant on why I hate Argos. Or at least why I hate my local Argos

A Brief Rant On The Future Of Interaction Design

Here’s my reaction to http://worrydream.com/ABriefRantOnTheFutureOfInteractionDesign/ This rant does make a lot of sense and as a bit of an apple fan boy anything that mocks Microsoft I generally agree with. For example I agree that the lack of interaction except ‘sliding a finger on glass’ seems unfulfilling. I also agree that everyday objects in the real world give a sense of tactile feedback that has yet to be matched by what most would call modern technology. However I do think that the video was made for the purpose of showing off and not as a proposal of what to do and where interaction design should go. The interactions in the video do seem to not be meeting potential for example the lack of actual talking. A few years ago I had a conversation with my friend about technology and communication. Her view was that technology was hindering communication specifically on public transport. I argued that most people on their phones and iPads are communicating, it just happens to be with people not on the bus/ train. She did not believe me and we dubbed this phenomenon the iPhone effect. She did not believe me because my argument lacked conviction. There is little talking to each other on public transport but I do not believe it is technology that is hindering these interactions. I believe it’s the environment itself. Rows of seats facing forward and a noisy diesel engine is not the type of setting that lends itself to socialising and meeting people. So we search for something else to do. In 2014 it’s Facebook and Twitter but in the 20th century interaction was substituted by a different kind of handheld device… The newspaper.
newspapers on a train
The idea that rich on screen visuals and tactile feedback using the hands are opposite ends of the spectrum is something I’m not sure about. I mean yes, until now we have had to make this trade off however, it may not be the case for much longer. I read an article that they are working on screens that can charge the screen through static to give the user a bit of a tingle when using it. This can be perfected into mimicking texture. Imagine running your finger across a picture of an orange on your phone and being able to feel the indentations of its skin. The current neglect of touch interactions in our ‘touch screen’ world is, I agree, a shame. However there is no reason that we can’t have both. I think that as many senses as possible should be considered when designing an interaction. What places sight above touch. And why is touch more important than smell with regards to interaction? Maybe its just because the technology to create these isn’t here yet. Hands are great. But so are noses.