Monday, August 13, 2007

Trains and usability

Buttons on train not vert usable ...

"Sometimes I think that on British trains they're performing some kind of weird experiments in bad design. The toilets on many trains have this set of buttons:

Train Buttons - Usability, User Interface Design

Train Buttons

Correct! Ten out of ten for whoever designed them, simple as they might seem. They're easy to understand and they're in the order you actually use them. But on today's train they're like this:

Corrected Train Buttons - Usability, User Interface Design

Corrected Train Buttons

Huh...? Reading down the panel, it's easy to make the mistake of only getting as far as the first button before pulling your trousers down. It seems this has happened, too, because they helpfully added a sign above the buttons which says "Don't forget to lock (L) the door!" Big hint: if you need to give users hints like that, you've designed it wrong.

One thing you could do is combine the "close" and "lock" buttons into one, since it's very rare that anyone's going to close the door from inside wanting it to stay unlocked. On a train last week they'd done that, but they'd done something else weird:

Complex Train Buttons - Usability, User Interface Design

Complex Train Buttons

Firstly the buttons are in the wrong order: since we read from left to right it gets confusing to press the rightmost button first, especially in the context of a "paragraph" where the instructions are written (for no good reason) as entire sentences. Secondly the curling pattern of the arrows sends the eyes round in a loop, making it hard to grasp in a single glance which sentence belongs with which button."    (Continued via MCLD blog)    [Usability Resources]


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