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Where Did I Park Again?

By Michelle Pomorski, October 25, 2017

Every now and then I get inspired by those health reports on the news about how to incorporate healthy living into our busy everyday lives. My latest quest has been to try to improve my heart health by taking the stairs every day in the parking structure. Recently though, there has been some renovating and the stairs were repainted. During the priming phase, it surprised me that I felt so claustrophobic and enclosed in the stairwell when everything was grey; so I was incredibly grateful when they finally added some color to the walls. However, they seemed to overlook the importance of which color.

Every floor within the structure has a unique color assigned to it, which is an excellent way to help people remember where they have parked. After a year and a half of parking here, I have unconsciously memorized all the colors and their assigned floors. Floor three is blue, four is yellow, five is green, etc. Prior to the repaint, the colors assigned to the floors also matched those in the stairwell. Yet, for some reason, upon repainting they decided to paint every stairwell yellow. Yellow is the assigned color to the fourth floor.

Why is this a problem? Well, I often have a ton of things on my mind as I am coming and going from work; remembering my exact parking spot isn’t ever at the top of my list. In my daily morning haste, I don’t always remember to check the color of the floor until I am already running down the stairwell and it was nice when I could easily glance back to see the color.

Probably even more important than remembering where I parked on the way in is seeing the floor color in the stairwell on the way home. When the colors in the stairwell matched the assigned floor color, I was able to see the progress I was making and, even more importantly, I WOULD NOT MISS MY FLOOR. Those extra stairs might be a good thing for my health, but it’s a bad thing when I’m rushing home.

Color has meaning. It’s a part of the parking structure design that I have grown accustomed to using and now, thanks to a decision made by someone who has probably never set foot inside my parking structure, I must determine a new workaround to remember my floor.

Considering current design throughout a redesign process is critical to engaging user adoption and ensures users do not have to relearn and reshape their workflows as changes are introduced. As the parking structure has proven, this is a method that does not just apply to the world of software.