User Experience Copywriter Evaluates 7 Public Restrooms

I’ve got a strange fascination with public bathrooms. Perhaps it’s because they’re like churches. They’re all set up to do basically the same thing, which leaves a wide spectrum for aesthetic choice. Plus most people only want to be in one as long as is absolutely necessary. So I decided to use my skills as a user experience copywriter to evaluate the UX of public restrooms.

What is user experience evaluation, you ask? It goes something like this. UX evaluation investigates how a person feels about a system as a whole, either after using it for awhile or, in this case, after a specific interaction or task (aka, episodic UX evaluation).

There’s no agreement on the exact measures for evaluating overall UX, mainly because different systems offer different kinds of experiences. There are, however, some high-level concepts that can act as the basis for defining user experience metrics.

For this exercise, I borrowed five metrics for overall UX evaluation. Utility, Usability, Aesthetics, Identification and Inspiration. Note that I removed a sixth metric, Value. Value measures whether or not a system is important to the user. In the case of the public restroom, I figured that all of these systems were equally important to users at the moment of use, so this measurement was no longer a differentiator.

Lastly, and all kidding aside, if you want to know more about how a user experience copywriter can help you focus your brand, website or other project on the needs of your users, read this. And if you need a user experience copywriter? Contact me.

  1. Utility: Are the functions useful and fit for the purpose?
    • I’d have to say yes.
  2. Usability: Is it easy and efficient to get things done?
    • Main functions, yes, however, follow-up activities (hand-washing, drying) are inconvenient.
  3. Aesthetics: Is it visually attractive and pleasurable to use?
    • Yes. The grunge look is appealing to me as using a restroom with this look means I’m in a place that makes me feel hip and with it and other outdated terms that negate my status as a middle-aging suburban mother. 
  4. Identification: Do I identify myself with it?
    • No. I’m not hip or with it. (Hey, I’m a user experience copywriter, not a Hollywood starlet.)
  5. Stimulation: Does it inspire me?
    • Yes, I’m inspired to personalize the graphical interface, aka, grab a pen and graffiti some attempt at humor that’s ultimately just a pathetic plea for acceptance.
  1. Utility: Are the functions useful and fit for the purpose?
    • Yes.
  2. Usability: Is it easy and efficient to get things done?
    • Yes, both main functions and follow-up activities are placed in close proximity.
  3. Aesthetics: Is it visually attractive and pleasurable to use?
    • See answer to #4.
  4. Identification: Do I identify myself with it?
    • Sort of. There’s something so Euro about the suspended tank and cables that I’m doomed to feel unworthy of using this system. But the vaguely octogenarian tiling and inappropriate choice of oversized black sink basin almost even out the score.
  5. Stimulation: Does it inspire me?
    • No, it kind of leaves me feeling hopeless. I can’t explain why.
  1. Utility: Are the functions useful and fit for the purpose?
    • Just barely.
  2. Usability: Is it easy and efficient to get things done?
    • No. Main functions can only just be performed using this interface. Also, while interface was originally designed for a wide audience, it has become biased toward a subgroup of users because they don’t have to come in contact with any surface whatsoever except the floor via their shoes. (Guys, this means you.)
  3. Aesthetics: Is it visually attractive and pleasurable to use?
    • No, no, a thousand times no.
  4. Identification: Do I identify myself with it?
    • Only if I become a crack whore.
  5. Stimulation: Does it inspire me?
    • See answer to #4.
  1. Utility: Are the functions useful and fit for the purpose?
    • Yes.
  2. Usability: Is it easy and efficient to get things done?
    • Yes, although interface suffers from a common problem in this type of system—inadvertent bias due to user neglect. (Again, guys. Hello!)
  3. Aesthetics: Is it visually attractive and pleasurable to use?
    • Neither attractive nor unattractive. Functional.
  4. Identification: Do I identify myself with it?
    • If I’m three or four years into an involuntary stay at a sanitarium, maybe.
  5. Stimulation: Does it inspire me?
    • To stay on my meds, yes.
  1. Utility: Are the functions useful and fit for the purpose?
    • Primarily.
  2. Usability: Is it easy and efficient to get things done?
    • There’s a bit of disconnect between the primary and secondary functions, but overall, yes.
  3. Aesthetics: Is it visually attractive and pleasurable to use?
    • No.
  4. Identification: Do I identify myself with it?
    • No. I identify this as probably the female crew’s restroom on a decommissioned oil rig (hence what looks like a changing table on the right).
  5. Stimulation: Does it inspire me?
    • To keep my day job, yes.
  1. Utility: Are the functions useful and fit for the purpose?
    • Yes.
  2. Usability: Is it easy and efficient to get things done?
    • Yes.
  3. Aesthetics: Is it visually attractive and pleasurable to use?
    • Heaven help us, no.
  4. Identification: Do I identify myself with it?
    • No. I’m not an 87-year-old woman attending a bingo tournament at the local Super 8 Motel in Toulousa Kentucky.
  5. Stimulation: Does it inspire me?
    • To choose sink plumbing that doesn’t require a diaper, yes.
  1. Utility: Are the functions useful and fit for the purpose?
    • N/A.
  2. Usability: Is it easy and efficient to get things done?
    • N/A.
  3. Aesthetics: Is it visually attractive and pleasurable to use?
    • Since it never stops being trendy to use Airline Safety Card iconography as an aesthetic choice, yes.
  4. Identification: Do I identify myself with it?
    • Only in two out of the six images (and I ain’t saying which two).
  5. Stimulation: Does it inspire me?
    • To give up scatological humor, yes.