Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Interesting design challenge

When experts smoke ribs, one of the ways they know (and educated customers know) that it was smoked properly is that the meat gets a pink color. But pink is also the color associated with meat that is undercooked. So uneducated customers often think that it is not well cooked, even though it is perfect. This is a function visibility and population stereotype error. Most people associate pink meat with undercooked. But smoked ribs is a special case that violates the general rule.

I saw an interview with the owner of a high quality restaurant that specialized in smoked ribs. He was joking that the most common complaint he gets from customers is that their meat is undercooked and they ask for a new piece. He has to tell them that the meat is supposed to look that way. Sometimes, they aren't convinced that he is being honest, and may leave dissatisfied with the service. How can a company overcome this problem?

In this case, they put a label on the menu next to the smoked ribs warning customers that it will be pink, even when properly cooked.

great design idea to help customers be faster and better

I ate at a Thai restaurant last week and the credit card receipt was annotated with some hints for what to use for a tip. The numbers were automatically calculated, so that it was customized for the amount of the bill. Just below where the customer writes the tip, it had:

15%=$5.00 18%=$6.00 20%=$6.67

This is great because most people probably give between 15 and 20% but can't calculate it quickly in their head. So with this receipt, the customer saves time, effort, and is more likely to put down the correct amount for the tip. Great idea, yet so simple.