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The Austin Convention Center Realizes the Importance of Usability
Whenever I meet with startups to review their services and/or apps, I generally always stress the importance of usability. It’s so critical that a service be useable – both to keep current users and to have those same users recommend the service.
Since my first visit to Austin for SXSW many years ago, there was one thing I noticed that bugged me regarding usability at the Austin Convention Center. Lots of panels during SXSW are on the 3rd floor at the convention center but this floor and area is the hardest to get to. It’s obviously easy to get into the building on the first floor and there are lots of options to get to the 4th floor, but getting to this mysterious third floor was always odd. I am sure that if you have been to SXSW, you know what I am talking about.
To get to the third floor, there was just an escalator at the far end of the convention center or an elevator down that same hall. If you were coming into the building at the top end, it was just poor usability in the method needed to get to the third floor.
But there was always a simple fix – the huge double escalator from the first-to-fourth floors has a landing on the third floor but there is no path from the escalator to the third level. Why was it built like this? To torture people as they can see the third floor and it would be just a short hop across but yet there is no way to get across without fear of falling and a certain death?
My first few years at SXSW, I asked the convention center why no connection was built for something seemingly so obvious. The response was always that the architect designed the building this way. Design over usability – a fight I’ve seen and had more times than I can count.
Well it looks like finally usability has won! Look at the photos below. Finally the Austin convention center has added a 3 step cross over from the landing between the two escalators and the third floor! Praise the usability gods! Thousands of feet love the upgrade!
Would people use this crossover? I stood on the landing for 20 minutes and watched as countless people made the 3 step cross over – they probably have no idea the wonderfulness of this addon.
Obviously this is a long post for a simple usability upgrade. The next time someone questions you about adding or removing a function on your service or app for usability reasons, you reply, “the third floor crossover tells us to do it.”