Halifax — The jig is up at Real Atlantic Superstores across Atlantic Canada.
Yesterday, it was revealed that what started out as a cynical prank by the programmers simply got out of hand and snowballed into a massive failure.
Loblaws rolled out new self-serve checkout software to its Atlantic locations in early May. Since then, the puzzling user interface and lack of simple instructions has earned the ire of many. The minimalist design has a few brightly coloured icons, a lot of white space and virtually no on-screen text.
Now, it’s been revealed that this cryptic checkout system was a bad joke on Loblaws executives that went too far. The chagrined coders say that they had lost their tempers due to frequent design changes and decided to teach their customers a lesson. However, the joke was on Superstore customers when the whole scheme backfired.
Lead programmer Kelsey Ordi admitted that after countless “design by committee” sessions with Loblaws staff, the frustration got the best of her team. “We kept being told how to design things by people who knew nothing about user interface design. And, everyone always — always — had to agree or nothing was decided. It was agony. We couldn’t take it.
“So, we decided to give them exactly what they asked for so they could see how ridiculous it was,” she confessed. “We removed everything except some Crayola icons, and incorporated absolutely no text or prompts of any kind. To us, it was so obviously ironic and antithetical to good design that we thought, ‘Finally they’ll see how moronic this idea is.’
“They loved it,” Odri said gravely. “They absolutely frickin’ loved it so much, I couldn’t effing believe it. Well after that, there was no reasoning with them. That was it, and there was no more discussion, period.”
Ordi coyly confided that since they are partially to blame for the mishap, the programmers have agreed to deliver a redesign at no charge. “The new interface that they selected will be voice-activated like Siri, so now you will have to tell the computer what you bought. Here, let me show you…”
Ordi: “One Old El Paso Taco Kit.”
Computer: Did you say bananas?
Ordi: “TACO! TACO KIT!”
Computer: 23 bananas…