Friday, February 20, 2009



The ethnography that I decided to conduct was on Redbox users. I wanted to see how people used the box and how easy it was for them to use it. As a side study, I also looked at the people that were queuing to use the Redbox. I watched how the line grew longer and got shorter as well as its affect on the usage of the Redbox.

The Redbox in question that I was studying is located at the McDonald's on Texas Ave. Over a period of one and a half hours, I recorded data on fifty transactions as well as the nature of the people in line. This was also on a Friday night, typically thought of as movie night for most college students.

The majority of users rented DVDs. there were 35 groups that only rented. Their average transaction time was 2:25. 14 groups returned DVDs with an average transaction time of 46 seconds. One person only browsed, not renting or returning, for 1:22.

The Redbox has been designed to be very efficient at what it does. Returning a DVD is a very quick transaction, only requiring to tell the box that the user is returning a DVD and place it in the slot. Problems start to arise when the user places the DVD in the box incorrectly. Redbox has attempted to solve this problem by placing a label on the DVD case that states which side must be facing the user, but it does not account for the possibility of having the DVD in the case incorrectly.

Another hindrance to the transaction time is the credit card reader. Although the screen and accompanying sticker next to the reader explain the usage, it does not provide adequate feedback when used incorrectly. If the card is swiped in the wrong direction, it is not explained to the user. The only feedback the user will receive is a flashing red light for a few seconds after their card is swiped incorrectly. This is not immediate either, causing people who did use the card reader correctly to pause briefly, waiting to see if they did it correctly themselves.

One interesting thing to note about the people queuing in line is their inherent laziness. Throughout the evening, both the direction, and formation of the the line changed almost as quickly as people entered and left the line. When the line was short, people queued up very nicely behind each other. As the line grew and a bit more time passed, the line began to shift into the parking lot. At first the people were taking up a parking spot, but still remained in a relatively straight line. As even more people filed in, they has to spread out as to not stand in the way of traffic passing through. There are only six parking spots relatively close to the Redbox as well as one handicapped spot. When the six regular spots were full, some people bravely took the handicapped spot to save them the walking distance across the lot.

In conclusion, the Redbox has been designed very efficiently and allows for quick transactions but some improvements can be made. Having a separate slot for returns would allow a person to return a DVD at the same time another person is renting one. There would have to be some kind of timing system so the DVDs will not interfere with the other transaction, but should be possible. The card reader feedback could be better designed. Possible to allow the card to be read in either direction that it is swiped. The location of the Redbox could be better places, or possibly some signs can be placed to state which direction to form a line as to keep people on the sidewalk and out of the parking lot.

1 comment:

  1. The suggestions about better placement for the kiosk is an excellent one. I can only imagine the kind of lines with that thing!