I've just come back from holiday in Kos. One of the modern challenges of going away is figuring out how to hang up a pair of trousers in the hotel wardrobe. This apparently simple task has become more complicated because of the replacement of old-fashioned hook hangers with two-part security hangers. The hook hangers could be easily removed from the rail in order to facilitate the hanging of clothes. With the new hangers we have to disengage the frame from the closed loop. In this hotel the connection was a ball-and-socket arrangement which required a technique like that required by those buzzing wire steady-hand games at school fairs
. The equivalent of the dreaded buzz is your trousers slipping off the frame and falling in a heap on the wardrobe floor. It is particularly difficult in a crammed wardrobe (my wife is a firm believer in "way too many" being better than "too few" when it comes to packing holiday clothes).
As a hotel guest, my user requirements for a clothes hanger are:
- hanging my trousers;
- simple to use.
However, guests are not the only stakeholders. The hotel owners also have a set of requirements:
- allow guests to hang their trousers;
- discourage guests from taking hangers home.
Clearly the first requirements on both stakeholders' lists are in alignment. But whilst the hook hanger satisfies the guest's second requirement it doesn't satisfy the owner's second requirement. Whereas the closed loop hanger meets the owner's second requirement but fails to meet the guest's. In situations like this, when two requirements clash it is usual for the customer's requirement - the bill payer - to trump the user's requirement.
And that's why almost universally hotels now have security hangers in their wardrobes. At least in this situation the user's top requirement - hanging my trousers - has been implemented in a convenient fashion. The hotel could just have provided a wardrobe rail and told us to bring our own clothes hangers (i.e. as a self-service application).
Labels: Design, process, Requirements