Thursday, June 14, 2007

Does it really have to be this difficult?

Regular Simplicity Blog readers will remember a while ago I wrote a couple of postings about stupid things I simply could not understand. One of the things I mentioned was the ridiculous places that toilet rolls are fixed in public toilets.

I conclude after another week of visiting a few public conveniences on my travels that I was right all along.

In a nutshell designers either have a wicked sense of humour, they are contortionists and assume the rest of us are too, or they are just plain stupid. Who in their right mind would fix a toilet roll holder in the position shown on this photograph?
This is at Snow Hill Railway Station, Birmingham. Annie took the photo this evening while we were at Snow Hill simply because readers just would not believe me without the evidence - No planner could be that stupid you would be saying without seeing the evidence!

Earlier in the week I had the dubious pleasure of experiencing another crazy set up in the public toilets in Keele Services on the M6 Motorway.

The large toilet roll holder contained two of those really large rolls and every time I pulled the end of the roll just one piece of tissue came off the roll because of the weight of the roll and the relative weakness of the paper!

Therefore I had to use my imagination and hold my hand up inside the holder itself to manipulate the roll round to allow more than one sheet of tissue to appear out of the base of the holder and then remove my hands from inside the holder to tear off the tissue!!! – Am I exaggerating??? – No - just try it yourself next time you are passing Keele Services!!

It seems impossible to imagine that something so simple as fixing a toilet roll holder in an accessible place and designing a toilet roll holder that allows the customer to tear off tissue easily could be so difficult.

This posting is mildly amusing of course but behind it is a serious message about design and common sense and customer care (yes customer care – I AM DEADLY SERIOUS!)

It has been a long week and I have travelled many miles ….. Interesting that the thing that got me most motivated to write on my Blog was about public toilets!!

Maybe the travelling has finally got to my brain


Dan said...

Great observations - and I think you've hit on the difference between building something and actually designing it.

To build it, one need only throw the pieces together. See, it's a bathroom, so we made sure it has a toilet paper dispenser. Yeah, we put it on the ceiling - is that a problem?

But to design - ah, there's the tricky part, which requires some actual thought, some consideration for the fact that human begins will need to use it, etc, etc.

We can make do with things people build... but it's so much better when we use things people design.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Dan - why don't managers who are responsible for these places ever check whether they work in practice? ... Like everything else about management it is so simple.

Anonymous said...

I was tempted to say that you should get out more – this new hobby of yours – toilet spotting - isn’t a great conversation piece! Perhaps you should take up train spotting or stamp collecting instead! Anyway, as you are getting out and about pretty well, that obviously isn’t the answer to your problem!

In my Random Ramble this week, I revealed that it is reported we Britons flush £342m of mobiles down the loo every year. I couldn’t understand how we could be so careless but all is clear now. It is obviously the contortions that we have to go through to reach the paper that causes the phones to fall out of our pockets!

Despite all of your tribulations, I trust that you returned home from you tour of the country flushed with success! Sorry, couldn’t resist that!

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks David - and that does explain the mobile phone mystery!!

I has been a very busy week and I can assure you I did a 'wee' bit more than toilet spotting.

Anonymous said...

I came here from the PatientOpinion website, and stumbled across a great perception. A few weeks ago I bashed my kneecap, leaving a toilet (so not in any rush) against the inward-opening door, because there was just 2inches between the door and the pan, and not much space to stand to the side of the pan because one of those same huge toilet-roll holders had been put on the non-hinge side, ie. the side where one needed to try and stand to get out. I suspect that this modern-office (University of Warwick) toilet stall was built not designed.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks for sharing that Andrew ... we just couldn't make it up could we? :-)

Glad you stopped by at my Blog - did you read the posts in the last few days on healthcare. Listening to Patients stories 16th June and Memo to NHS staff 27th June – I would value your comments.

Warm regards