I want to share this funny sketch about human-machine interaction from the British comedian Eddie Izzard with you. Enjoy.
While on an airport and running from one gate to another I was impressed by a very helpful design of an airport guidance system. The sign below is part of the airport guidance system in Munich. I saw the sign immediately when I came from the small runway between plane and airport. The time between connecting flights can be quite short and so I found the information very re-ensuring. It is an informative design that is presented at an effective location.
This video is a nice example of an engaging learning video that captures and maintains the attention of its observers by visualizing the content with emojis. The emoji might be a bit overused in this video. As a kid I would probably be continuously laughing rather than concentrating on the content - but then again I'm not the target group. The idea is good either way. Emojis applied in the right balance can be a great power to capture and maintain attention when difficult concepts are presented.
A friend send me a link to a discussion. Besides the discussion, the website included a cool feature which I would like to see on other websites. The designers put a little box in the lower right edge of the screen which informs the users about the total number of comments and the number of the comment they are currently reading. It is not necessary to read the number. The progress is presented as a colored status bar in the background of the number as well, similar to the progress-bar that indicates the download process.
I like to read articles in the Newyorker. However, those articles are typically quite long (longer than my lunch break). It would be a nice feature if they would include a progress-bar to inform the user about the reading progress.
Light switches are an everyday object. Occasionally, they can be an object of frustration, if the design is inadequate. In the following I will describe an example from an office in which I worked. The image below shows the rectangular building. In the corners of the building, marked in red, are staircases. I worked in a large office that provided space for about 40 people. The room was designed to be used flexibly as either one large office or a set of smaller offices. There were two of those large offices in the building located on the left and right side of the building. In both offices were columns which could be used to separate the room into smaller offices. Those columns are marked as brown squares. Of course, in such a large room there were several lamps, I counted at least 12. I will describe three usability issues that I experienced with the light switches.
A first usability issue was that there was no clear link between a light switch its associated lamps. The lamps in the office were divided into sets and each of those sets could be controlled by a single light switch. The light switches were positioned seemingly random. Some light switches where installed on a column, but not on every column and not on the same side of the column, and others were installed on the walls. When there is more than one set of lamp and associated light switch there should be a clear link between the light switch and dedicated lamp, for example, a physical association. That could be similar to a control for the stove. Assuming there are four sets of lights arranged in a square, their controls could be positioned in a matching square formation at the entrance of the room. I remember running rounds in the office if the light above my desk happened to be switched off. A difficulty in this office was certainly its flexible usage (one large or a set of small offices). Taking the flexible design of the room into account a wireless light regulation with a pad could be a usable solution. The room could have different holders on the walls, flexible to the current physical layout, and the pad could be mounted on one of them. However, that solution would have been more expensive compared to the conventional light switches.
A second usability issue was that the status of the light switch was not physically visible. Below you can see a light switch from that office (top). With a click the light switch could be pressed down. On release of the finger the light switch returned into its original physical position. This meant that after turning the light on and after turning the light off the switch remained in the same position. Having one of such light switches in a room is no problem as the user can see the outcome of the interaction. However, as soon as there are two switches next to each other it can get confusing, particularly if it is not clear which lamp a switch controls. Additionally, I found the two icons on the top and bottom of the switch confusing, because appear to indicate that the switch changes its position (e.g.: "off" tilt upwards and "on" tilt downwards).
A third usability issue are the icons on the switch. The choice of icons is good, because they are standard icons for indicating an on/off status on electronic devices. However, those two icons are useless given that the switch does not remain in an altered physical position after an interaction. More exactly, they tricked me into thinking that the switch has two physical positions (see above).