Superman never made any money for saving the world from Solomon Grundy

Thursday, February 26, 2009

6.6294 of one, half-dozen of the other

Nu, I used a cash machine today for the first time in a long while. I usually get cash back at the supermarket, but there's a new no-surcharge machine on campus (yay, credit unions!) and I was supposed to pay for some Girl Scout cookies a co-worker was selling, so I stopped by on my way to the library to get some folding green.

The transaction went fine and I asked for a receipt, which reminded me of an industrial design choice that I have always thought brilliant, even though it seems to have never caught on.

I remain convinced that the perfect size for an ATM receipt is 2.61 inches (6.6294cm) wide by 6.14 inches (15.5956cm) tall or long.

Why? Because that's the size of U.S. currency. I always figured that since the ATM has the sole purpose of distributing money - that's its only product - and the customer is going to have some place to put that money (usually a wallet) that is designed specifically to hold that size paper currency, why not give them a receipt for the product that is sure to fit in the same container as the product? One bank I used to use - it must have been some incarnation of the old Rainier Bank - had a receipt that was almost the exact same size as dollar bills, and it was mighty convenient just to tuck the receipt in the wallet with the cash. You could even use it to separate new cash from old, or special money from walking-around cash.

But although my experience is admittedly spotty, most ATMs seem to give out big, square receipts that don't match up with money in any dimension. The receipt I got today measures out at about three inches by four inches: both too wide and too short to match up with a bill. I couldn't just merge it in with the bills to fit in my wallet; I had to fold it a completely different way.

This all might seem just a little anal retentive, but I think it makes good sense. After all, usability is one of the key elements of industrial design (as it is for technical writing) and this size does seem to feed right into the receipt's usability.

Of course, as I was looking for a suitable illustration for this post, I came across a burgeoning movement to forgo ATM receipts because they waste resources and are a major cause of litter and take up landfill space and all that. So maybe the whole point is moot.


Juliet said...

Brilliant. But, WalOCDka, what will the ATMs in EU dispense?

John said...

I can't comment on your video blog... but that's either a hillarious one-time parody... or the beginning of a terrible, terrible trend that needs to die right now.