Usability in an Emergency

031208_15232_crop2.jpgI spend a good portion of my time thinking about usability. It’s not only a part of my work, but something I can’t help but pay attention to in my daily activities. The photo shown here is a scene I encountered at a mall recently. Despite the poor cell phone quality image, you may be able to make out the words, “Defibrillator & Emergency Oxygen.” You may also be keen enough to notice that the gadget below the sign is not actually a defibrillator or emergency oxygen. It is a payphone. In fact, nowhere in sight of this sign will you find either a defibrillator or emergency oxygen. If, in your mad panic to find such emergency equipment, you take time to read the rest of the sign, you’ll see this: “Available at customer service centers.” Once you’ve read this, you’ll still be hard-pressed to find the customer service center. It is not nearby. It is not within view. Nor is a mall directory. Nor have they provided a phone number for the customer service counter, which might have been somewhat useful given the close proximity of a phone. So, I can’t help but wonder, how effective is this sign?