Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.

Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.
Image by Cameron Lyall, GNU license Wikimedia

11 July 2011

Poor Design

"Poor design" was the theme of Bridget, Danielle, and my trip to Paris. I'm not sure if it was because we've been trained to "nudge" people or just organize things in a logical fashion, but we were constantly noting a few simple changes in layout or design would move people around more efficiently.

For instance, the Paris RER and Metro rail systems. Obviously the signs are all in French and they shouldn't have to cater to non-French speaking visitors, but there are a few things they could do to ensure that they don't have a surplus of confused and panicked visitors.

Number 1: Have more specific French signs. By that I don't mean more words on the signs, I mean more than just a sign saying the platform is in that general direction. We once encountered a situation where we were pointed into a room where the train to our next location was supposed to be, but no further reference to it on the entire platform. There were, however, references to other trains on large easy-to-read signs, but not the one we wanted. Thoroughly confused, poor Danielle had to be our translator while reading some detailed instructions to figure out which train we needed. This would have been quite easy to fix by continuing to have signs that go to each train.

Number 2: Continuity. On our last day in Paris we were on our way to visit the Bastille. After being led astray and having to be able to read French, we located our train, determined we had to get off on the next stop, and hopped on the train. After we had been on the train and got off at the next stop, we discovered that it was not the Bastille stop and that in fact the Bastille stop was under construction. So this meant we had to walk back over to the Bastille. (Where we discovered a delightful Indiana Tex Mex restaurant)

Unfortunately on the way back, we were on a train that clearly labeled that the Bastille was under construction. This confusion could easily be remedied by having all of the trains be as clearly labeled.

Now this wasn't just limited to a disorganized rail system.

Number 3: Queue confusion. The French seemingly have queues everywhere. Especially taxi queues, but the queue I'm referencing specifically is the queue for the Eiffel tower. It was set up in such a way that after you bought your ticket you had to go stand in another line for the elevator. Which sounds fine, but this line spilled out into the lines for tickets. This meant that if you were in the line for tickets closest to the line for the elevator you would just absorb into the elevator line leaving others that have been waiting longer behind you. Bridget, Danielle, and I being fire blooded Americans elbowed and bullied our way into the proper line. However this would not have been necessary if there had been another railing separating the elevator line from the ticket line.

Now I'm not saying that Paris is alone in its unorganized state (Stewart Center comes readily to mind), because I see places all the time that could be much more efficient with very few changes. What I am saying is that the world needs a board of Professional Writers to nudge things along.

1 comment:

Ross said...

That you found an Indiana Tex-Mex restaurant in Paris makes me want to laugh or cry, I'm not sure which.