How to Quickly UX a Restaurant Bathroom

I’m a Brooklynite on vacation in Portland, Maine this week — and I’m definitely feeling the considerate signage at Bard Coffee on Middle Street.

This simple heads up clarifies exactly what we, the customers, need to do to save ourselves from public embarrassment of the being-walked-in-on variety — make sure we’re in possession of the key before we pull our pants down.

The handwritten addition of the words “Proven Fact” injects a bit of down-to-earth “we’ve been there, trust us” humor into the FYI.

Living in New York City will make a person subscribe to the belief that those who don’t properly tip their baristas are going straight to hell, so I’d tip regardless…however, if I happened to be on the fence about tipping, this extra bit of regard for my experience would push me into the “definitely tipping these awesome people” zone. This sign also makes me likelier to return to Bard Coffee for my next cortado, even though the sign has nothing to do with the quality of the coffee served here — which, as a side note, was extremely good. This empathic sign is a solid, extremely low-cost business decision.

Props to Bard for taking the time to consider the full experience customers have in their shop, beyond the coffee nerd focus. This sign embodies the idea that UXing a retail or dining establishment doesn’t necessarily have to be fancy or expensive. It’s about paying attention to the entire physical and spatial journey customers have in your space beyond the core product offering, putting yourself in our shoes, and mocking up scrappy solutions. Those solutions can evolve to become more refined over time — the important thing is to convey empathy for customers early and often with consideration signifiers such as this one.

A door that locks properly might be a more refined solution, but I almost prefer the hospitable charm of knowing someone deliberately took the time to consider my experience in their store.