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November 22, 2008


Mike Sporer

At first glance, the guy in front looked like Donald Trump!

You are so right. Small things and thoughtful design make a difference.

Lee Potts

Hi Garr,

I got to stay at what was the Ritz-Carlton (it's now part of another chain) in Pasadena twice. They were filming interior scenes for the remake of The Parent Trap during one of my stays. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see Lindsay Lohan.

Relaxing after the meeting on my balcony overlooking the huge, perfectly groomed lawn in the back of the property and watching LA rise up out of the haze as dusk fell is something I'll never forget.

The service was, as one would expect, unforgettable as well.

Sven Türpe

You might want to check out Don Norman's books (http://jnd.org/books.html). He is a psychologist; in "The Design of Everyday Things" he explains how we interact with our environment and how the environment communicates to us what we can or should do. The underlying idea is that the designer should provide proper cues to make us do the right thing "naturally", and that failure on the designer's part leads to issues in interaction just like the one you describes.

Jan Schultink

I never understand this "this side up"-thing. How much would it cost (more) to double up the reader and produce a device that can read both sides of the card? Getting out of a parking lot with impatient people behind you, getting into a hotel room, worrying about an ATM "eating" your card, it would make life so much easier...

The "bleep" always makes it seem that it is your fault that you put the card upside down (and the queue behind you probably will think the same), while in fact it is the designer's....

Michael Banovsky

I'm not a fan of key cards. In some luxury hotels I've been to, the most elegant and satisfying solution seems to be keys that don't have a serrated edge, rather, three or four ridges for the lock to access the devices digital footprint.

Not only can they be used on either side, but they give you the weight and feel of a key, and not the percieved cheapness of a plastic card. M!

Greg Rouault

Hey Garr,

Good contrast between the Hilton key card and the Ritz-Carlton one. The fact that they know that it is not a rare problem and have not dealt with it is even more alarming as it lacks a certain post-design critical incident response to customer service.

Did you run the stairs back down (or up? again?) to really feel the burn of this one?

Of note: Is Ricco not "in the left of the picture" or "on the left" or actually "on YOUR right"?

Tsahi Levent-Levi

I hate key cards as well. My worst-ever is this one in Paris: http://www.flickr.com/photos/86979666@N00/2236379483/
You need to press the button on the door, then point the specific part of the key card at the lock and pray for the green light to appear.
I had a ton of fun standing at the corridor with this one each time I wanted to enter my room.


I had a similar reaction as "m" when I read the "too my right" comment above. It is correct that Ricco is sitting to Garr's right, but you have to put yourself in Garr's seat to get this perspective, rather than from the viewer's seat. Sometimes even an expert can miss the mark of designing "with the user in mind". Interesting irony that it would happen in this post.

And considering the detail the designers put on the back of the Hilton key, I'd bet they THOUGHT they had the user in mind.


I guess I'm confused. Despite your explanation of the magnetic strip, I still don't understand why the BIG arrow didn't convince you to try it with the arrow facing up? I'm not trying to defend the cards because I'm always inserting them incorrectly. But now I always look for the arrow when deciding how to insert the card. If that doesn't work, I try them from every side and direction before trudging back down to the desk. I never thought about looking at the magnetic strip to override the arrow.

Note: don't store the cards near your cell phone if your phone uses a magnet to reseat the cover. I keep learning this one the hard way.

Steve Tu

Thought you might enjoy this site (if you haven't seen it already): http://www.onesentence.org/

Josh Berry

First time commenting and a recent fan of yours after I ran across your book in the office of HiCue Speakers in Bogotá.

I met Mr. DeBlank when he was back in Osaka. You are correct that he has a passion for service. I remember him saying that the brand [Ritz-Carlton] is in his ladies and gentlemen. Selecting the right person who best represents the image you are trying to create will take you leaps and bounds beyond simple training classes, process redesigns or printing Credo cards.

What was your impression of the management at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo property and how were your ideas accepted? Thanks for your input.

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