In Praise of a Good Interface

Those interested in creative usability, learning, and feedback should check out Moe’s Southwest Grill nutrition information website. Of course, as delightful as the menu interface is, it is very difficult to link.

1. Turn down speakers

2. Go to Moe’s home page

3. Wait through annoying splash screen, circa 1995

4. Mouse over “Menu” and click on “nutrition”

5. Enjoy learning about every optional ingredient in your food

I think this interface is especially interesting by comparison. McDonald’s and other restaurants seem to have directly translated the difficult to read “nutrition chart” posted in their stores. Granted, it is probably in their interest to make this information difficult to access and understand. Burger King attempted more advanced interface, though I find it more difficult to use than Moe’s, (and I found their home site almost impossible to navigate. Check out the icons(?) to the right of the “search” bar that isn’t actually a search bar). Moe’s, however, takes full advantage of the computer medium to allow a simple, informative interaction.

What makes it even more interesting than just providing information is that Moe’s allows customers to learn about different choices and maybe even plan their order beforehand. After all, many foods are misleading. Who knew the drizzle of dressing on your taco multiplies total fat by a factor of 6? At Moe’s website you can play around with different choices to compromise with a meal that weighs your preferences against what is good for you. You may still choose that Chipolte Ranch dressing, but at least it’s an informed decision.

Here are some ideas for the Moe’s paradigm:

1. Widely available interfaces like this could be used to teach restaurant “reality” to families as we try to curb the obesity epidemic.

2. The same interface (or one with different “choices”) could be used in studies of decision making.

3. Actually, tweaks to this program could be used to study learning from feedback. I can imagine having a version that provides even more information, such as how the meal you choose fits into a personalized food pyramid and recommended daily allowances.

One thought on “In Praise of a Good Interface”

  1. Why not take it one step further and add touchscreens (or the Microsoft Surface table) to each table and let patrons order their own food while they receive nutritional information feedback in real time?

    One other thing I’d like to see on Moe’s site is a comprehensive listing of ingredients along with a highlighting of popular allergens. Wait, after revisiting their site I see they have a link for allergens, but it’s in a separate PDF page. The chart on the PDF is pretty well-laid out, but it’d be much better to integrate that into the interactive food menu.

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