Closed on Wednesday (or how I missed what was right in front of me)

Ross Hall

April 14, 2021
(Updated on July 21, 2021)

The Tower of the Sun in Osaka rising above the entrance

Sited in Osaka, the Tower of the Sun is a 70 metre tall artwork created by renown artist Okamoto Taro for the 1970 expo. It looms large over a vast parkland, watching visitors enjoying a walk in the gardens, or enjoying the shopping mall and food court in the nearby mall. Until you’ve seen Okamoto’s masterpiece, it is hard to appreciate the impact it has.

Our plan was to visit on a Monday when crowds would be smaller. Rain pushed that to Tuesday, when a sudden client need delayed us again. And so on Wednesday we jumped in the car, fired up Google Maps and set off for a fun day out.

Only it was closed.

This shouldn’t have been a surprise. Google Maps had the “Closed on Wednesday” warning where it always was. Whether it was the excitement of the trip or just incompetence, I missed it.

There’s a lesson here. No matter how hard you try to put signposts in your designs, there will always be people who miss them. Most will appreciate their mistake and nothing will come of it. A few won’t come back out of embarrassment at their error. One or two might turn their foolishness into a blog post.

Yet there will be those who have to complain. Your efforts weren’t good enough. Your design wasn’t “intuitive” by whatever subjective measure they use. You must try harder. You will spend hours responding to their complaint until you reach the inevitable conclusion they made a mistake.

I’m not suggesting you should reject these complaints out of hand. You should invest time investigating their concern. Maybe there is an issue you didn’t detect, or a new piece of information you should respond to. Then there are those times someone makes a mistake and can’t bring themselves to acknowledge it.

If you’ve approached your design honestly, applied best practices and done what you can within budget and time, nothing more can be asked of you.

Because no matter what you do to show people the way, there will always be the odd one-or-two who completely ignore the big “Closed on Wednesdays” sign right in front of them.

I'm Ross Hall, a writer and researcher based in Kobe, Japan. You can talk to me about B2B, sustainability and strategic management.

Like what you read? Sign up for my weekly(ish) missive, delivered straight to your inbox.