CY6532 is the keypad code to get into the toilet block at Jindabyne campsite. I tell you this not because I think you’re all going to rush there and steal a shower. It’s because having stayed there for a weekend to go skiing I now have that number lodged in my brain. And I resent it. I resent the laziness of the design solution that imposes this overhead on me.

I’m sure cognitive scientists will tell me that there is no finite limit on brain capacity (since in this instance we’re not talking short term memory with its estimated 7+/-2 limit). But rationally or otherwise I cannot help feeling that my having to remember that code has meant some other useful snippet of information has been relegated to the dark corners of my brain. Or dropped out altogether. And for what? I’ve left the campsite now. I won’t be returning for a year at least. How much longer am I going to ‘know’ CY6532?

All the time as designers we have an option that transfers the awkwardness of a design from us to our users. We impose on them some – we think insignificant – overhead (just remember this code) rather than coming up with something smarter (swipe card/bracelet? Door unlocked?). And all such impositions get wrapped up as “training issues”.

Well next time you face that decision, remember CY6532. I know I will for far too long.

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