“Are you sure it’s this way?” asks my wife.
“Absolutely, I can see it right here on the map,” I reply.
“OK, because I thought I saw a sign pointing the other way.”
I think you know how this ends.
It was last Wednesday, and we were at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. I’ll assume you want to know why, since all of our Toronto friends were dumbfounded when we happily declared our intention to attend. “You’re going to the CNE? Why?”
If you don’t know, the CNE is basically a fair: rides for kids, games designed to rob you blind, and overpriced food (but if you’ve never had a waffle ice cream sandwich, I highly recommend it). Our reasons for going can mostly be summed up in a “what
else are we doing on a Wednesday night?” attitude, but there was one specific reason I wanted to go.
“The Ex” is an old fair, founded back in 1879, and I will say I was drawn to seeing a classic act from fair history: the Human Cannonball. With 15 minutes to show time, I’d opened up the CNE’s iPhone app and was happy to discover that it was taking advantage
of localization to pinpoint me on the map of the grounds. Excellent, now on to the human cannonball’s event page, where I clicked the handy “map” button, and was presented a red dot as my destination.
Blue dot me. Red dot human cannonball.
Or so I thought. If I’d bothered to scrutinize the map more closely I would have seen that the event was clearly labeled in the lower left corner of the map, and the red dot was nowhere near it. It wasn’t indicating the event’s location, it was indicating
the start of the street that the event was on. A strange choice, and one I assume was a mistake, since the event was at the complete other end of that street.
As designers and developers, we need to be careful about jumping to include technologies just because they exist. We (and clients) get excited about the possibilities, but if we don’t give projects the time they need for planning, UI/UX considerations,
designing, programming and testing, then we risk delivering a worse experience than if we’d just left a feature out.
Of course, as users, with mobile apps and sites becoming more and more a part of our lives, we need to learn that sometimes we should just turn them off. Look around, read a sign, ask a stranger, or hey — even your wife. Maybe she knows the way.
“I think I see it,” I say. We’ve turned around now and are heading in the right direction, but we’re already ten minutes late.
“You see that big net waaaaay down there? Maybe we’ll get to see him land.”
Beat. Cue tiny human figure dropping into a net, far, far away. Oh well, until next year the internet will have to do: