For the past week, I have been keeping somewhat of a journal entry type for my experiences I’ve had with HCI. This was quite interesting to do. With people in my age group, which we’ll call 20’s to early ’30s, we are knowledgeable of how technology has and continues to evolve. It was an experience to see how much technology has evolved in some of the easiest things we use almost on an everyday basis.
During the fast-paced smartphone filled lives we live in, people decided to spice it up and let us have Google Maps on our phones as well.
Sure, it’s great for those who don’t have car navigation or a GPS, but is it really that great of a thing? For example, we were going to a family member’s house on Easter. Of course, we had no idea where we were going, so we take the car with navigation and get the address to the house.
Now a downfall to car navigation, using a 2016 Fusion for this, you can’t put in an address while in motion. I get it, safety issue there. So, I use Google Maps. Going great until the lady says, “You’ve passed your destination, turn around when possible.” What? We were looking at woods, no house. Of course, calling anyone who was over there was pointless, no one answered. Since we weren’t moving, I put the address in the car’s navigation and used the turn by turn feature it has so I wouldn’t constantly be looking at the radio for the next direction or image.
Overall, each of these is a great tool to have, but I would rather use the car. I don’t want to guess where I’m supposed to go, I want to know. Yet, one thing Google has on the car though is drop points. I can get a drop point from someone and get to their exact location. That is a plus, but for trips and trying to get around in unchartered territories, I’d much have the car navigation. Even though our phones can go literally everywhere with us, so we do always have navigation. That’s a good plus, but you can’t send a drop point to yourself like you can to the car’s navigation system or a location from Google Maps and end up getting a better and faster route than what Google had to begin with. Since this is my first adventure with car navigation, the whole navigation has improved majorly from the first GPS that would have to be updated through your computer every so often. Having satellite locations makes for more accurate directions and travel time.
As I said in the beginning, I stepped out of the box on this one. I have never ordered food online in my life. I thought it was kind of lazy, to be honest. I still don’t understand the concept of it, but I can’t say that I have never done it. We decided to order pizza for dinner. My wife works for a financial institution and she is off by 5 every day. My schedule varies each day as far as when I’m getting off. Just so happened we are both off by 5 pm. Since I started my workday 12 hours earlier, cooking didn’t sound too appealing to me. Going over the options for dinner on the way home, we decided pizza. Usually, we will call it in and go get it to save on the delivery charge, but in this case, we decided to order online. It started off not bad. In my eyes, I was not having to listen to someone tell me specials and hear the noise in the background, I got to read it instead. I did like how you could see the entire menu online. You go to some pizza places and what you physically see inside is different than what their paper menus or even online menus have. When I went to order the pizza, and usually it has your payment method and an option to register a user account to save your information. For some reason, this part of the process was down, yet my order was sent to the closest one and I would have to pay when I picked up the pizza. I had to pick it up? There’s no delivery on an online order?? We go to pick it up and I told the cashier about the situation on the website. She explained that since that part of the website was currently down that they weren’t going to send delivery out on online orders that the people would have to come to get it from the store and pay. That made no sense to me at all. Granted this is a family-owned pizza place, nothing like Pizza Hut or Domino’s, so they can really do how they pleased. Now with bigger restaurants, clearly the technology is always updated and rarely has complications. They would probably have a delivery for online orders too. With that being my first experience with this, it has also been my last. I figure if the website isn’t offering anything different than what I get in the mail or hear over the phone, why bother? It’s just as easy if not easier to call and get it yourself. The website was easy to use and wasn’t overwhelmed with all the information on one or two pages. I didn’t like how it would pull up different windows when you would start to place your order in. I’m sure since they’ve gotten the website back right it could be different, but I think the whole calling it in ordering concept is the best for me. For a website to be able to order online, improvements would be to make sure not only all aspects of the site are fully functional but to also have the same menu online as in the actual store to have less confusion for customers.
Sonic’s menu I can only describe in a couple of words: comic book vomit. So many pictures with so many descriptions, on top of the fact its little print doesn’t help those of use squinting to try and see what all we don’t want on a combo. I think the Sonic close to our house just got all the “improved menus” about two months ago. This was actually a great thing. I couldn’t stand going to Sonic, ordering my food, and then when I put my card in there to pay nothing happens. So now not only am I waiting on my food, but I’m also going to have to wait on them to walk or skate back inside to run my card then come back. Let’s hope when I check my food it’s right. So, the improved menus have the screens on there that show specials they have and your order as your ordering along with different payment methods. So now it’s a comic book with a mini television. Now I think this was a win for them to finally upgrade this. When you’re about to pay, you push either card, cash, or app. I haven’t tried the app yet, but I have with cash and card. It seems now if I pay with cash, my food magically appears faster than what it would if I paid with a card. Guess they’re giving themselves extra time. Anyway, this is a huge step up for them. Yeah, other fast food places have already had the screen that shows your order on there, but Sonic gives you the option for payment. I know a manager of one, and he was saying how they’re thinking of making it to where the screen is where you will order and eliminate the person taking the order to get rid of anything that is misheard even if it’s repeated back to you. I think that would be a huge improvement in the crazy competition that there is between the different fast-food businesses.
By now, we all know the whole concept of Walmart’s savings catcher and how we can’t wait to scan our receipts to see what we get back. This afternoon I go into Walmart to get a few groceries that we had forgotten to get. Of course, I have the Walmart app and use the savings catcher every time. We like how when you scan your receipt, it will show the different stores that sell the same products and from there prices are compared. Granted, about every store that sells groceries tend to sell the same thing, so I get why it could take up to 48 hours for you to know if you’re getting money back or not. It tends to be somewhat disappointing when you spend close to $200 and the best prices were what you spent, or you have $1.50 back on the savings catcher. Now you’ll get lucky sometimes, as we did, and get $19 back. That’s a DVD I just got for free in my eyes. Anyway, so, all in all, it’s a great concept. It keeps consumers going back to shop there, and it works. What I see that could steer people away at least from the savings catcher is the actual receipt scan. On the app, there is a place where you line the square upon the receipt and it’ll scan it and all the information from your receipt is on there and you’re done. This has worked for me maybe all of twenty times since we’ve started doing this. It will notify you that there’s a problem in scanning the receipt and now you have to type in the receipt number and date. An improvement I see here is for the scanner to always work for the user. Once someone has to input the information manually, they’ll put it down and forget to do it. I know I have. Or they’ll go, “Great, watch this not work again.” I’ve been there too plenty of times. I think the only time it shouldn’t scan is when it can’t be picked up due to paper running out at the machine or it’s running out of ink and it’s very faint.
Once the receipt is scanned, you’ll get a confirmation email saying your receipt was sent and you’ll receive another email when your receipt is processed. This typically takes 2-3 days for this to process. When you get the email stating whether you have money back, it is ready to be loaded an e-gift card. Now we all know no one thinks about automatically doing this then. We wait until we’re about to leave the house to go grocery shopping or something and then we go to load the gift card. Once you go to load this, it says it’ll take up to 24 hours before available to use. The second improvement is it should be automatically available on the gift card when it is being activated. People don’t want to wait these days. At least if this improvement is made, people may not mind so much having to input the information in knowing that whatever they get back is ready to be used.
Throughout the past week, I have come to realize how much technology has overpowered our culture. Like people, businesses want the best of the best to feel at the top of their game. What’s being missed is whatever is coming to the consumers isn’t completely easy to use or understand, then all that’ll happen is improvement after improvement. From what I’ve seen over the past week, Sonic’s newer payment methods on the menus is probably the easiest to use considering there were no issues I encountered, and it was also self-explanatory with limited options.
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