The UX Behind our ‘Behinds’

The Public restroom, a shiney or shitty UX? Like most Americans these days, the public bathroom argument has become a frequent story on my newsfeed. I hadn’t given it much thought until this happened to me…

After an unnecessary number of refills of venti iced coffees… I was busting first in line for the Men’s bathroom. Peaking at the red “occupied” little sign, I quickly unlock my phone and focus my thoughts on everything other than the soothing tropical sensations of Kauai’s waterfalls. Suddenly, a familiar “flushhhh!” reverberates through the door putting my bickering bladder to ease. The red “occupied” sign clicks to green, and out walks …a woman… from the looks of it.  Was I offended? no – in fact I was thankful, and I’m not the only one. While gathering research for this story, we ran surveys and discovered that most customers prefer the person sitting across from them to upt for the next available bathroom over the pants.

The national controversy steaming around the places we “freshen up” centers on the funds going/not going to school bathrooms for humans outside the biologically binary boy/girl label. I think there’s more this story then politics. While there’s outrage from both sides of the political aisle on this aspect of the ass- room, let’s agree that gender is just one of the hairs on the bowl of our bathroom experience. So slide those latex gloves and facemask on, and plunge with me into the dirty design of the public bathroom – because no matter what color, culture, creed or clothes we fit into, we’re all brown on the inside.


The topics:

  • Preventative medicine goals – the designs – current, past, future
    • Wash your hands design
    • hand sanitizers
    • Sanitation vs. water usage
    • Touch free
    • Chicago toilet with plastic on the seats
    • sanitizing the door handles frequently to stalls and to the bathroom itself. how do we manage that? is it timer based?
    • Is there room for cleaning up this experience
    • The handle of the door
    • no mirrors- by design? why?
  • Gender factor
    • “emergency” situations for like “in case of the unlikely event of bursting diarrhea sensaiton, or exploding bladder…
    • the music festival solution
    • ergonomics – women and squatting- is a handle bar a good idea?
  • Say it! don’t spray it!
    • toilet paper that says washing hands saves lives and cuts insurance costs
    • The sign for employees to wash their hands, could this be given a facelift to encourage ALL to wash their hands? Why? The handle of the doors to the establishment, the container for your credit card at a restaurant, etc. get contaminated, is it worth it to have an awkward exchange of a few words with patrons
    • the occupied vs. vacant sign
    • Can timer apps help manage bathroom time like car parking spots openings
    • can gamification help?
    • the test: swabbing the door handles to establishments with new design prototypes in places, vs. the status quo experience. Are there the same amount of germs?


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