Dude, do you even push?

I recently stood at an ATM and saw this:

ATM keypad

Who knows how old this ATM is, but the keypad for it clearly shows where all the action is: 1, 2, 3, 7, and 0. I had three thoughts about this:

  1. Most people must be using PINs that include 1, 2, 3, and 7.
  2. Though,  if you want to withdraw money (this ATM did not have a touch screen), you’re most likely to withdraw a denomination that has a 2 in it ($20), so that probably leads to some extra use.
  3. I feel pretty good knowing my PIN uses seemingly more secure numbers.

This was also a helpful exercise in usability and user interaction when it comes to buttons people push. As I sat there trying to pull out $20, the 2 was so worn down that it barely worked. I’m sure many a frustrated user had stood there trying hard to push the 2 before resorting to pushing all sorts of other buttons just to make something — anything — work. I ultimately took out $40 instead and the Enter button’s apparent cleanliness became clear to me: people had to push that button so hard and so with so much pressure that it’s basically been cleaned by thousands of people rubbing their thumbs like moms on their kid’s cheeks on picture day.

If you’re going to make a button, either make it look like a tactile button (for screens) that gives obvious feedback (like a down or hover state), or make sure it’s actually physically tactile.

About the author

Justin Harter