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

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6answers
2k 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
2k 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
3answers
1k 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 don'...
8
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
343 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
3answers
338 views

The Right way to Write

A slightly belated festive question! Why do we write on the right hand side of cards (and books)? In English and many other languages, we typically begin writing in the top left and move rightwards ...
8
votes
7answers
5k views

Why electric car windows can be automatic for driver's window and manual for others?

I'm European and I don't understand the logic behind electric car windows commands. In a lot of cars, a driver can fully open the electric window on his side with a single push. But if he wants to ...
8
votes
4answers
285 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 ...
8
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2answers
240 views

Using warnings to reduce printer waste

I've seen where businesses try to limit printing usage by limiting users from printing more than 100 or so pages per month with an application like this: download bmml source – Wireframes ...
8
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5answers
1k 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
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7answers
5k 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 ...
7
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9answers
3k views

How can employees be subtly reminded that when they talk loud in the cubicle farm corridor they disturb people in the cubicles? [closed]

We have a software shop with a cubicle farm where cubicles have non-transparent (painted drywall) walls about 1,5 meters high. There's a corridor running through the farm. Most of the time all the ...
7
votes
3answers
1k 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
3answers
380 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). ...
7
votes
2answers
273 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
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2answers
257 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
286 views

What is the rationale behind the way modern elevator dispatch systems are implemented?

There have been many elevator upgrade projects with the aim of saving energy and time for the managers and occupants of buildings. I suspect this has to do with the increase in height and volume of ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

How long should automatic doors delay closing?

Automatic doors have a sensor that detect whether people are present, and when there are none, and after a delay, the doors close. How long should that closing delay be? Does it depend on factors ...
6
votes
2answers
771 views

Does drawing a dash across the numeral 7 (seven) increase readability?

The RBRC battery recycling logo was recently updated to add a dash to the final digit 7 (seven) in the phone number: Does this increase readability? In what situations, if any, is writing the ...
6
votes
8answers
431 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
1k 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
3answers
229 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
1answer
621 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
2answers
105 views

Why do manufacturers allow Android's 'takeover'?

This is a question that I was wondering for quite some time. To provide some background, I bought a few physical devices with different screens and operative systems so we could test apps at the ...
6
votes
4answers
251 views

How can railroad operator help passengers find power outlets below their seats?

There'a railway car with passenger seats looking roughly like this (please ignore the seatbelt): Seats are arranged in ICE fashion - two rows with a passage between them, two seats in each row, ...
6
votes
1answer
106 views

Why do car doors have an almost-closed state?

In every car I've ever seen, if you don't close the door with sufficient force, the door gets into a weird semi-closed state. This state is invisible, which is why cars have various indicators and ...
6
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3answers
1k views

Why do electric fan knobs often place the highest setting right after the off position?

Electric fans are often controlled by a knob which the user turns to power the fan on or off, and control the fan's speed. On a lot of fans, the knob goes immediately from the off position to the ...
6
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2answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
164 views

Putting names on international business cards in a helpful way

With electronic transmission of contact infos (h/x/j/vCard, CardDAV, EAS etc.) it should be possible to store unambiguously the various parts of a person’s name and title as well as their gender and ...
6
votes
1answer
177 views

How to build UI/UX for aircraft? [closed]

Currently, I am the student of CS in aviation. My project is about research in UI for board system (Boeing). Now I have the necessary technical documentation and examples of current interfaces (to ...
5
votes
4answers
559 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
2answers
273 views

Are dial format speedometers more effective than numeric speedometers?

I recently criticized a sketch of a automobile instrument cluster concept that indicated speed with a bar gauge and a numeric readout. I and many others suggested that a dial speedometer was easier to ...
5
votes
1answer
378 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
263 views

Is it better to mirror a real-world system for specialized users?

I'm designing a web interface for a control-center kind of thing that's extremely information-dense because it controls a fairly complex system. To an outsider, it's kind of been like trying to make ...
5
votes
2answers
295 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
5answers
167 views

Hot & Cold Touch-Free Sink

I am currently trying to come up with an intuitive design for a touch free sink faucet that allows for both hot and cold temperature settings. Most touch free sinks involve one sensor to start the ...
5
votes
2answers
185 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
252 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
674 views

Toilet paper orientation [closed]

In surveys of American consumers and of bath and kitchen specialists, 60–70% of respondents prefer over. What are the primary experience factors that lead a majority of users to choose over?
4
votes
3answers
485 views

Why do some elevators have a single call button and others two?

It seems like it would be optimal to have two call buttons (up/down) on an elevator instead of one because I could hop on an elevator headed in the same direction that I want to go versus having to ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Maximum set of stairs users are willing to climb before needing an elevator

I know this question has many variables related to ones own ambition / physical condition, but I'm wondering if you were to have a multi story building, what would be the maximum set of stairs a user ...
4
votes
5answers
493 views

How can the mode of a car's transmission be made more clear?

In a car, if you press the accelerator it can do one of three things: make the car go forward. make the car go backward. not move the car at all. The result depends on what gear the car is in, but ...
4
votes
3answers
544 views

Air keyboard - does it exist?

Is there some kinect-like device with an application that lets users type in the air and reads what keys they would have typed, were there a keyboard? Even a prototype or a research effort? It ...
4
votes
4answers
136 views

Alternative to power-hungry screen displays

For devices that run on a battery, the screen is the component that drains the the battery the most. So I began to wonder if there is an alternative. Has someone ever tried another type of interface ...
4
votes
4answers
702 views

Transparent resin casting vs. solid metal color

I am designing an electronics circuit (gps-tracker/recorder) that I would like to cast in a material for durability and aesthetics, as pictured. I may decide to sell it at some point. It would be ...
4
votes
6answers
316 views

Encourage use of only one roll at a time from toilet paper dispenser

The toilet paper dispenser in a bathroom stall at work made me think of an interesting problem. There are two rolls hooked up and ready for use at any time. As the rolls get smaller and smaller, the ...
4
votes
2answers
193 views

Conditioning users

Playing around with my heat in my new Volkswagen GTI, I noticed when you press the heated seats button once, it starts you off with maximum greatness (3 / 3) press it again it goes down ( 2 / 3) (1 / ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What color smartphone provides the best viewing experience?

This question is not as subjective as it sounds. Some background... Smartphones are commonly sold in black, white, silver, gold, and occasionally other colors. This is slightely dated (2013), but ...
4
votes
4answers
441 views

Controls on moving controls?

It hit me today when driving home from work turning right in a highly busy crossing. I wanted to lower the music volume but couldn’t find the control without looking. On previous cars I’ve owned, the ...