For questions involving physical interfaces and interactions with "real world" objects.

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16
votes
5answers
3k views

Why do light switch buttons have up/down direction when it's really a toggle function?

If you do a quick image search on your favorite search engine on "light switch" you get a large number of images. Most of them have up and down direction, to represent state. Up for on in the US, and ...
16
votes
5answers
815 views

Why do most dashboards use capital words?

Most car manufacturers seem to use ALL CAPS for the interiors's buttons and switches, at least when they are not using symbols. Example: They even use capitals for things that are not even ...
15
votes
11answers
2k views

“Tool” or “target” on vacuum cleaner pedal?

I always get confused by the icons on my vacuum cleaner pedal. Take a look at the upper icon. Is that icon representing 1) The tool. I.e. "Your now using the pedal without the brush" (ergo, on a ...
14
votes
4answers
410 views

Keyboard number row ordering

On a typical keyboard, why is the 0 in the number row next to the 9 instead of the 1? This seems like a question which should have a straight-forward answer, but the only one I could find is this ...
13
votes
3answers
964 views

What is the reason for Concave round buttons in Elevators

What is the reason many elevators have concave shaped buttons. Like this: Any special reason behind this?
13
votes
3answers
328 views

How to differentiate rechargeable from non-rechargeable batteries?

(For example) AA batteries are available as rechargeable and non-rechargeable variants. As they are of identical construction, you have to read the tiny text on the battery to find out if they are ...
13
votes
6answers
3k views

Why do light switches find themselves OUTSIDE the room they light up in some European countries?

Okay, to be fair my experience is mostly with Poland, though I have observed this electrical interior design decision in a few neighboring countries while travelling, but can't generalize there. ...
13
votes
5answers
758 views

Why do Juice cartons fail on opening?

When I open a simple juice carton I fail on opening. I always seem to waste some of the concentrated juice on the kitchen sink and I wonder – do I do it wrong or is it the package that does not have a ...
13
votes
1answer
532 views

How can you indicate a hidden button on the back of a device?

The first time I used an iMac it was a terrible user experience - I couldn't turn it on. I was scouring the keyboard and running my hands around the edge of it looking for the on button, or some magic ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do manufacturers of most small/medium refrigerators default the door to swing counter-clockwise?

Most people are right-handed, right hand is handy. However, most small/medium refrigerator doors swing counter-clockwise by default. This forces you to move/arrange heavy things with your left hand. ...
12
votes
4answers
581 views

Why are sinks always rounded?

I've noticed a trend recently that some sinks have a flat base, but they seem to be few and far between. Are there any reasons related to UX for why sinks have traditionally always been round?
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Dice and Domino Dot Convention

I noticed dice and dominos both use the same convention for dot placement. Is there a reason for this? Is there any research on how to layout dots so that they are most readable?
10
votes
4answers
1k views

Why do Pedestrian Traffic Signals only play the audible crossing notification for only a short duration and not for the entire duration of crossing?

As per with the American Disability Act (ADA), audible pedestrian signals are supposed to be implemented in most traffic signal projects. These audible signals are designed to assist visually impaired ...
10
votes
3answers
948 views

Elevator dispatch algorithm choice

We have a single elevator servicing an 8 level residential building. What might be the optimal elevator positioning algorithm to optimize user experience (primarily, wait time)? I was thinking ...
10
votes
1answer
423 views

Why do US food labels intermix desirable and undesirable properties without distinction?

I find it remarkable that the US FDA, after years of tweaking and no doubt lots of time and money invested, could only come up with a food label that is terribly confusing! The left side shows a ...
10
votes
3answers
429 views

Why are double-handle taps still installed in households and public washrooms?

I'm wondering why double-handle faucets are still installed in sinks, bathtubs, etc in newer places of dwelling as well as public washrooms. From reading, they appear to be easier to install, but ...
10
votes
2answers
737 views

Why are most public restroom faucets so short?

My question was inspired by this one. The majority of public restrooms have huge sinks and short faucets. When I wash my hands, most of the time I touch the back wall of the sink and that makes me ...
9
votes
6answers
1k views

Childproof washing machine

My little boy (11 months old) has just discovered how the buttons and dials of the washing machine work. This is inconvenient, because the machine does not react well to random button mashing while ...
9
votes
5answers
783 views

Volume controls: Why is left down and right up?

I see a lot of people discuss the order of buttons (e.g., should OK be on the left and cancel on the right? or submit button on the left or right?) but something that I wonder: Why do volume ...
9
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is the accelerator pedal different

The question is in reference to cars. The accelerator pedal is more elongated than the other two and usually softer as well. Why?
9
votes
2answers
455 views

Is duping the consumer really a good business practice?

I have had this at the back of my mind for sometime and I believe UX is the proper place to post this though I may not phrase the question right so please chime in if you have suggestions! There are ...
9
votes
4answers
559 views

Why did packaging for reams of paper change from paper to plastic?

After realizing UX includes the wonderfully apropos tag "physical" I am hoping to get some insight into something that has long been a conundrum for me: when the packaging around a ream of paper ...
8
votes
12answers
3k views

Why do physical keyboards still have built-in numpads?

Normally I use a wireless keyboard without a number pad and a mouse right next to it. Having started a new job, I was finding my right arm somewhat more sore. This was confusing until I realized: ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

Why is a manual transmission so complicated? [closed]

While driving I noticed that the gearbox is complicated for a first time users. I find it hard to tell which gear my car is in while driving. Is there a reason for this design, and is there a better ...
8
votes
3answers
854 views

Traffic light, no more shapes?

I remember when I was a kid. Each traffic lights had different shapes. Red = Square, Yellow = Triangle, Green = Circle. Now all the traffic lights that I see are round. Is there a reason why they ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

What are the benefits of non-QWERTY keyboards?

I'm stuck with QWERTY, but have been tempted to try Dvorak. Dvorak advocates claim it's faster. Are there any studies that compare these two (main) keyboard layouts? Are there other layouts out there ...
8
votes
4answers
6k views

Why did Google opt-out of hardware buttons for Nexus devices?

Are there any real UX reasons to remove hardware buttons from Android Nexus devices? In above Nexus 4 the bottom part is wasted space - won't adding buttons like menu/back/home make it more ...
8
votes
4answers
281 views

What are the User Experience disciplines in the analog world?

It is clear to me that User Experience (UX) is about how a person feels about using a product, system or service. This website is focused on the digital world, but what happens on the analog world? ...
8
votes
4answers
267 views

Is the middle power option 50% or 60%?

A friend of mine has a blender with 6 control selections: One off position, and five power settings in order of less to more power. Example below: A discussion has erupted over whether or not the ...
7
votes
6answers
4k views

Why do some cars have the fuel door on the passenger's side?

Many cars, such as the BMW M3 pictured below, have their fuel door on the passenger's side of the car. I do not understand the reasoning behind placing the fuel door opposite the driver; placing it ...
7
votes
3answers
780 views

Why is the caps lock key often so big on a keyboard?

It seems that the caps lock key is not a frequently used key on a computer keyboard yet on all the keyboards I have used, it is afforded a significant amount of interface real estate, often as much as ...
7
votes
6answers
765 views

How could petrol forecourts be designed to improve efficiency?

I am always shocked when I go to a petrol station. The layout- in the UK, at least- seems to be fairly standard. But it always seems to me to be incredibly inefficient. These are the issues: When ...
7
votes
2answers
256 views

Do manufacturers of markers produce different shapes for each type (whiteboard/permanent) so you can tell the difference by touch?

In the sense that this is an interface with the user of pens, I thought this might be an acceptable place to ask this question, but if it's just application interfaces, then please remove or close ...
7
votes
1answer
350 views

Why do stove dials rotate from “max to min” instead of “min to max”?

Unlike microwaves, on every stove-top/oven I've used, a dial that controls the stove elements can be turned backward to click to the maximum setting, while the dial that controls the oven temperature, ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Reason for blinking laptop power light on suspend

My HP Pavilion laptop has a power light on the switch (a slide-and-release switch). This light is off when the computer is off or hibernated, constantly on when the power is on, and it blinks when the ...
7
votes
5answers
792 views

How useful is this coffee cup “hot contents” warning?

I came across this on Dan Pink's blog. This caption on a coffee cup is supposed to serve as a warning sign to caution people that the coffee is hot and care must be taken to avoid burns. The ...
7
votes
2answers
242 views

Interesting visualizations for a personnel in-out control

I have a database with the data of all the company personnel in and out through several facilities (All people must put their fingerprint in the scanner to open doors) I'm looking for interesting way ...
6
votes
3answers
288 views

Why is User Experience treated different in digital and physical stores?

When shopping online there is (from my experience) a well thought through design of all the steps from finding the product(s) you want and need to the check out process and purchase of the product(s). ...
6
votes
8answers
394 views

Order of physical controls: volume down, volume up, mute

My speaker has 3 physical buttons in this order: volume down volume up mute I find the order quite illogical, I would expect: volume up volume down mute Is there any convention on the ...
6
votes
2answers
553 views

Keyboard shortcuts on non-QWERTY keyboard layouts

I've been using the Dvorak keyboard layout for a few years, and something that's always bothered me is keyboard shortcuts. On a QWERTY keyboard copy and paste are conveniently positioned as Ctrl+C and ...
6
votes
1answer
438 views

Is an office-lobby monitor slideshow any more usable than a homepage carousel?

I've got a real-world variant on the classic "Are Carousels Effective" question. My office, like many others, has a 40 inch LCD TV hanging on the wall in the lobby, and on it displays a looping ...
6
votes
3answers
202 views

How to handle settings which can be both set mechanically and via a computer?

I develop a device, which can be configured via a handful of binary settings. These can be set with mechanical switches (of course, internally they are evaluated electronically) However, optionally, ...
6
votes
2answers
954 views

Is there any research available about the speed of working with a mouse vs. working with a trackpad?

I ask this because of a friend who never hooks up a mouse to his laptop because he claims he can work just as fast with a trackpad as with a mouse. My personal experience is the other way around. I ...
5
votes
6answers
2k views

Why are soft drink bottles round, and milk cartons square?

EDIT: The coke bottle I am referring to in the question is 1.25L. Why are soft drink bottles round, but milk cartons square? The milk carton is more utilitarian, being more space efficient, and ...
5
votes
4answers
525 views

One charger for all cell phones

I'm sure you all have experienced the same problem. The scenario is simple. You have forgotten to take your cell phone's charger with you, and your phone is going to be turned off, because it lacks ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Should a light switch be small or big, or does this depend on other factors?

Small and big light switch compared: It's strange that this usually differs by country. The big ones are easier to hit, but the small ones provide better feedback (if you don't immediately see the ...
5
votes
1answer
286 views

Is there any attempt to standardize a “cancel” action in elevator buttons?

I live in a country where only a few (I've heard of 2 or 3) elevators has the option to toggle back a pressed button in order to cancel the request. Of course, I'm waiting for all elevator buttons ...
5
votes
2answers
265 views

Steps on stairs in groups of 8

I have noticed than most buildings with stairs, seem to group into 8 steps or 16 before each break, unless the total of steps are for example 6 or 10 and more/less steps would mean too high or too low ...
5
votes
2answers
174 views

Organising Spices for Cooking

In my kitchen I use a variety of spices, both powders and loose whole spices, numbering maybe 30 or 40 individual ingredients. Each one needs to be kept separate and reasonably well sealed while also ...
5
votes
1answer
215 views

How could you design a dishwasher to always be able to tell whether the dishes are clean or dirty? [closed]

One problem my roommates and I have is figuring out whether the dishes are dirty or clean. How could you design a dishwasher to always tell whether the dishes inside are clean or dirty? How can we ...