Ya, my blog looks different today…let me explain.

Last weekend I went to SF, CA.   SFO is linked directly to BART.  So when I got off the plane, I was determined to take a train ride to downtown San Francisco.  Plentiful signs directed me down corridors and up escalators to the ticket vending machines.  It was 8:45am and the only humans in the area were as dumbfounded as I by the ticketing process.  A paper sign proclaiming it would cost $5.35 to get to Union Square was taped to the machine, but another sign listing all of the train destinations, did not include Union Square.  The readout on the ticket machine warned that it did not make change, and directed us to another machine that only made change.
I swiped my credit card and the ticketing machine told me I would be charged 20 dollars, I canceled the transaction and turned to the person behind me asking if she knew how this worked.  “No” she said “but I’ll give it a try.”  She swiped her card and saw the same 20 dollar charge, but before she could cancel another patron told us “just push the minus buttons until you get to $5.35”.  “OH” we cried, “it doesn’t vend tickets by destination, it vends by amount and each destination is a different amount”.

ALL we had to do, was press the minus one dollar button 15 times, then press the minus 5 cents button 13 times, then press the print single ticket button and we would have our trip to downtown.  A review of the destination chart showed that $5.35 would get us to the Powell Street Station…ergo, that must be downtown.

Now, I don’t know who came up with this approach to buying train tickets, but they most certainly brought a different perspective to the process.  And they can’t really be faulted for designing a system that, to them, seemed perfectly logical.  The real culprits here are the folks that approved the design. Were they so afraid of appearing to be stupid, that none of them dared say, “Hey, I don’t get it”?

Now that I know the trick, the next time I ride the Bay Area Rapid Transit, I’ll know what to do.  This doesn’t make it a good design, I just learned how to interact with it.

This brings us to the changes in my blog.  The reason I went to SF was to attend a conference on WordPress, the software that powers this website.  It was an excellent conference and one of the things they preached constantly was to stay up to date with the latest version.  So, as soon as I got back, I upgraded to version 2.6.1.  Everything went smoothly with the upgrade until I brought the site back up.  All of my links to “Works of Heart”, “Considerations” and “Considerables” had vanished.

Further, there was no apparent way to fix my previous layout (it’s called a theme in WordPress).  So I pressed the minus dollar button 12 times(aka reviewed a dozen or so other themes that would restore my links), then hit the minus 5 cents button about 6 times(aka replaced the default graphics with mine) and voila, a new look to my website. 

I’n not sure it’s as good as the previous design, but at least I fixed so YOU don’t have to relearn any interactions.

Check back tomorrow, I’ve got lots to tell you this week!