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Jen Hennings

Jen Hennings

Akendi Alumnus

Why UX makes you “that” annoying friend

There are just certain aspects of British culture that you just don’t question. Things like the proper way to make a cup of tea, that fish and chips tastes better on a beach, the inevitable silence and lack of conversation on the tube.

And of course, the subject of today’s blog (well partially); queuing. There’s queuing etiquette here in the UK, and those who break it are seen as disturbers of the peace and silently judged by the rest of the rule abiding public. We love queues because they provide us with order and process and a sense of inevitability.

Some of us are blessed with the ability to choose the correct queue; others will always be destined to end up picking the slowest queue possible no matter what happens. I am one of those people. I can’t help it. But that’s ok, it’s just a part of life, so long as we know which queue to stand in, we’re happy.


After that tangent, let me try and bring this blog back onto a topic that is vaguely UX related.

This past Christmas, my partner and I visited London’s Southbank, as a throw back to our first date and something to do to avoid the fact we had to go back to work in 2 days.

There are lots of things to do on Southbank, and it is one of the busiest tourist areas in London, being home to the London Eye, London Dungeon, London Aquarium, and numerous other attractions. Each required its own ticket and timeslot to be booked, which made for an exercise in project management and time balancing all on its own.

In my head I started performing an expert review of the process, just because I’ve done too many to count now.

First off, the array of potential ticket combinations for the attractions is fairly intimidating, the London Eye for example has 8 different types of “General Tickets” and that doesn’t even include the options for “Special Tickets” and “Private Capsules”.

What exactly is a Fully Flexi Fast Track ticket when it’s at home anyway?

Nomenclature – Fail.

All I wanted to do was buy my ticket, book my time slot and go and look at the sights of London (well attempt to as it was distinctly grey that day).

But no, you either have to choose between these 8 different types of individual tickets or the option to buy multi attraction tickets, the list is endless.

As we wanted to do 3 of the attractions that day, we choose one of the Multi Attraction Passes. However, this is where the process starts to fall over. You can buy the tickets for different attractions from any of them but you can’t book time slots for any other than the one you’re currently in.

So when we bought our passes for the Shrek Experience, we couldn’t book our timeslot for the London Dungeon or the London Eye.

Efficiency of the User – Fail.

Now each of these attractions has their own separate building and booking offices which can perform one or many functions.

Between the 3 I believe I encountered 3 different names for the same thing. Namely, Box Office, Booking Office and Ticket Office.

Consistency – Fail.

The thing that made my skin crawl the most, as a UX Expert, was going to book our timeslot at the London Eye ticket office. I was presented with the following 3 options:

  1. Fast-Track Tickets, well I’ve only got a Standard Ticket so that’s no use
  2. Buy Tickets, I’ve done that, I want to book a time slot.
  3. Collect Tickets, but I already have my tickets?

The mind boggles.

Visible Navigation – Fail.

I am now frustrated as a UX professional, and as British girl, I am being presented with multiple queues and no idea which one to wait in. What the heck is this?

Unable to find the appropriate queue, my sensibilities fully offended, we asked for help. Imagine my surprise when we were told that we had to wait in the Collect Tickets line. Yet nowhere on the sign posting did it mention that this was possible?

Nomenclature – Fail.

Now I know I’m having a whinge, and my blog posts tend to be somewhat ranty, but I’m English and we love to complain just as much as we love to queue.

Despite the internal UX rant that this experience has resulted in, I would just like to point out that I did have a really good day on Southbank, and it’s definitely somewhere that I will return to.

But my point is that with the application of the and Heuristics that we use every day in our working lives, these fantastic attractions could be made so much more accessible to the millions of visitors that they receive every year.

On that note I shall finish and hope that the London Tourism Board, and my partner, can forgive me for being “that” person.

Jen Hennings

Jen Hennings

Akendi Alumnus


It is probably wrong for me, as an expat in the UK, to find comfort from your ticket experience; however, it gives me that assurance that, “it is not just me!?”

But truly, why are the ticketing systems in the UK so complicated? Buying a train ticket alone is a nightmare. “Peak”, “off-peak”, “super off-peak”, but then not stating, when purchasing in the station, when these rules apply continue to confuse me and make me rely on external apps. Unacceptable. However, my accent allows me a bit of a “finger wag” if I choose wrongly. I hope I never lose this, as I have very little optimism in change.

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Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.