Token machine at the Star Ferry

Token machine at the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry pier

This is a token machine at the Star Ferry pier. I must commend the ferry company’s good intentions behind the bilingual instructions: they really tried to make it as clear and unambiguous as possible. However, the machine was designed and built without much thinking about how users would interact with it. The instructional graphics couldn’t do much to save the poor interaction design of the machine itself.

One might also question whether a token machine is needed in the first place, when the machine does not give change for anything other than $10 and $20 dollar notes. There is still a ticket counter at the turnstiles. I think it was a solution for passenger overcrowding at the turnstiles, when people had to fumble for small change, creating a bottleneck. A token machine diverges the flow of people slightly, but adds to the user’s cognitive load.

It would be a good student project to redesign the instructions on this machine, first keeping the hardware unaltered, then moving on to redesigning the hardware interaction. Or even reconsidering the entire ticketing system. The bilingualism would make the design problem more challenging and interesting.

Categories bilingualism, information design, instructions
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