How do I work this?
For a communication assignment we had to redesign a parking meter. First step? Watch people using parking meters. I grabbed my unsuspecting Korean classmate and gave him a handful of coins. I asked him: can you buy parking with this? and got out my camera. Poor guy!
Chicago parking meters have a number of things wrong when it comes to user flow. I suspect the windows, slots and buttons are positioned where they are because of the mechanics in the machine-- but that's no excuse for the confusing signage.
I sorted out the functions users need to understand and watched the flow of operations. I made it easier to understand by breaking the actions down into 3 steps you can see when you glance at the meter.
Then I worked on grouping the slots and choices together with colors and shapes, plus giving leading lines to make the user move through the process and leave understanding how not to get a parking fine.