A paragon of design and user experience — the Spanish parking meter | Dafacto

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A paragon of design and user experience — the Spanish parking meter

04 December 2011

In the mainstream, we commonly admire the design works of luminaries such as Apple, IDEO, Frog Design and, well, why not — Makalu Interactive. But there are others out there, designers flying way below the radar, who equally deserve our admiration and respect — including the gifted ones (elegantly named, “Grupo Setex”) who designed the Spanish Parking Meter.

Pour a cognac, put on some Vivaldi, and spend some quality time soaking in the inspiration:


Grupo Setex designer, Juan Ive, speaking at the 2011 Lowest Bidder conference explained in an authoritive-sounding Spanish/British accent:

When we looked carefully at the common parking meter, we thought, "It's just too simple. People aren't spending enough time truly getting to know it." Thinking outside the box, and inspired by Microsoft, we worked hard to obscure the inherent simplicity, through carefully crafted layers of complexity. Our use of five colors, seven font sizes, obscure symbols (even we can't remember what that thing next to the "1" label is), repeating sets of plus/minus controls, and the mysterious "A/1" button, work together to ensure that no user will get a ticket out of this device in less than ten minutes (if at all). We've heard it's the talk of the town — I think we nailed it!

Since they installed these monstrosities around Marbella, I’ve been watching, and I’ve never seen a single device able to produce such a fast and consistent response among its users — The Contorted Face of Confusion.


Although not design related, the kicker is the pricing — 30 minutes for 30 cents or, get this, an hour for 70 cents. Think about that. And, finally, what I just discovered today — these machines will happily take your money on Sunday, without advising you that Sunday is free parking day in Marbella. Brilliant.

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