In this first article about the usability of everyday products I want to talk about the experience with my mp3 player. I often used the mp3 player while cycling or walking to work. Notably, I did not recognize the design limitations when I tested the design in the shop. I noticed them only after using the player for a while.
The most important function of an mp3 player is the selection of songs and to adjust the volume. This device offers a joystick like button for both of those interactions. Moving the joystick to the right/left selects the next/previous song and moving it up and down adjusts the volume. Those joystick movements reflect a logical design pattern. I often carried the mp3 player in the pocket of my jacket or trouser while cycling. This, however, shows a limitation of the design. The joystick extends slightly over the shape of the mp3 player (see photo below). In the pocket the joystick often accidentally activated and the music jumped to the next or previous song. This made drastically reduced the usability of the mp3 player.
Another limitation is the design of the on/off function. The user needs to press and hold down a small silver button for 3-4 seconds (photo above, right side). The interaction does not appear difficult, but as soon as the user presses the button down the music stops. It often fooled me into thinking that the mp3 player is switched off. However, to switch the mp3 player off the user is required to hold the button pressed down for 3-4 seconds. The display shows a bar marking the shut-down process. While cycling I do not see the display and miss this information. In general, from a non-technical perspective, it is not clear why the designer chose such a long process to switch the device off.