Traveler's Phrasebook Shirt - wear your tourist-ness on your sleeve...

Designed by Art Lebedev, the Traveler's Phrasebook T-shirt shows language-independent universal symbols for some of the most common needs while internationally out and about. Gives a neat impression at first, but on further thought, it seems more like a good start on an incomplete concept. Check it out:

-Wearing this thing on a shirt screeeams that you're a tourist, not something you want everyone to know. You're suddenly a target for both haggling merchants and shadier elements that are best kept uninformed. The first change I'd make is to transfer this whole pattern to a small, pocketable card. Unless you're the urban-hip-geek-chic type who wants to wear this kind of thing anyway.

-The question mark goes without saying. I guess it centralizes and emphasizes your cluelessness (a good thing?), but pointing to a symbol will already prompt a passerby to give you directions, no question mark needed.

-The number pad ain't easy. Presumably this is for price haggling, but trying to communicate a long number one digit at a time can get hairy when there's already a language barrier in the way. In street markets which frequently cater to foreign travelers, merchants usually use a basic calculator to simply display numbers when asked about prices. Since we're moving this whole product from a shirt to a card anyway, including a small solar calculator--or just an LCD number display, no calculating functions needed--would be a no-brainer.

-The iPod pocket. Since this shirt is specifically intended to be worn while traveling, how about a little security? Add buttons or a zipper to keep fend off pickpockets. And as a non-iPod-user myself, I'm annoyed that the description implies that that's all the pocket could be used for. Then again, we iPodless folks are a dying breed...

-The instructions. The product page says: "Point a finger at the pictogram you need and then point it twice at the question mark, which means, 'Where is it?'" It's a good goal to design products so intuitively that they don't need instructions - and this is especially true where language barriers are involved. I think this product is already intuitive enough that those instructions aren't needed, and to boot, they're ridiculous - those on the receiving end of the use of this product won't have read them!

-Sexual harassment. This shirt is available in women's styles. Think about it.

4 comments:

Sarah said...

Okay, it took me a minute to realize that this shirt is actually meant to be worn by tourists. At first I thought it was a joke. In fact, if I saw someone wearing it, and trying to use it, I would laugh.

And as a woman who's traveled in South America, there's NO WAY I would use that shirt.

rafael said...

I agree...I really would laugh too but mostly because this shirt is really funny and clever.
It is also a good excuse to start a conversation with a nice scandinaviam girl.

Dave Gustafson said...

Hey, Rafael's got the right idea! If this thing is a conversation piece, then it's a whole different beast - not really a usability issue at all!

dna said...

This "review" is what I call, "not getting to the point". As other said, the all point is the fun of it. It's an excuse to start a conversation.