Revisiting the User Experience of a 100 Year Old System

Link: Navigation Help for Surfacing Subway Riders

"It is one of those embarrassing, frustrating, infuriating experiences of everyday life that many New York subway passengers are loath to admit: that disorienting moment when they step onto the street, lost in a city they know — or think they know — perfectly well. Which way is Ninth Avenue, anyway?

Now the city is experimenting with a new way to help people go where they want to go without wasting more steps than they have to. The city and the private business improvement district for the neighborhood around Grand Central Terminal have installed compass-shaped decals on sidewalks, right where riders emerge from heavily used subway stairwells."

This is terrific — I was in New York recently, and I know my way around the city, sorta, but one morning I got off at a subway station and I didn’t know for sure which way I was going until I’d walked a block in some random direction.

It’s inspirational, too, that someone is re-examining the user experience of a 100-year-old product (the subway system) that to the casual observer would seem to have a critical mass of reasonably satisfied customers. There’s definitely a lesson here for technologists.