My family and I traveled to the Animal Kingdom at Disney World recently and while using FastPass to get on a ride, my five year old scanned his MagicBand twice. The first time was green 👍 and the second time was blue 👎 because he had already used his FastPass. That struck me as both odd and interesting.
Some background info…
A MagicBand looks like this:
It has a short range passive transponder inside the Mickey Mouse that tells machines around the park who you are. They operate much like RFID on credit cards, and you can in fact use them to pay for things. You simply touch your magic band to a number of things in the park, and poof, it just works.
At the FastPass line, the poles look like this:
FastPass is a perk of being a pass-holder. You can skip the line a number of times a day, but you have to reserve the time and ride you want. This helps my 7 year old a lot because…
autism + long waits = meltdowns
and nobody wants that.
Red vs Blue
Getting back to why blue is significant. In web app development there is a trope of using colors almost exclusively to convey the severity of the message. If you have used Bootstrap, this equates to a dark blue for primary, a cyan for info, some awful kind of orange for warning, red for error, and green for success.
In my experience, users do not read error messages or anything that looks like an error.
Warning messages are immediately dismissed for some reason. To this day, I am amazed by how many warnings are unheeded.
Red error messages give the impression that the application is figuratively on fire and that everything is broken. At this point, the user decides to start a spreadsheet for tracking something the system should be doing for them. Six months later you find a competing Microsoft Access application built by that department due to a simple validation error on a form.
I digress. Why is blue important? Blue is important because it isn’t threatening. It is simply a “non-success” state. As a user, it isn’t important to me if I made a mistake or if the application crashed. I just need to know that it didn’t work and then have some instructions on what I should do next. Maybe just maybe if I don’t know what blue means, I will read the damned message.
I think we should stop alarming users and keep things simple as success or non-success. Disney may be on to something here.