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

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33
votes
10answers
8k views

Why did early telephones use a rotary dial instead of 10 individual buttons?

I was watching a video of little kids trying to figure out how to use a rotary phone, and it was not immediately clear to any of them how the rotary mechanism was supposed to work. That got me ...
2
votes
2answers
75 views

Do large format books make a substantial improvement?

In the last several years I've seen larger format books alongside the familiar pocket paperbacks. Sometimes these are taller, sometimes they are wider, and sometimes both. I've wound up with these in ...
18
votes
3answers
376 views

How do blind people know where to find Braille signs?

On many occasions I have seen signs, with the equivalent in Braille underneath the text. Which is great. But what baffles me is this: how do blind people know where to find the Braille text? I don't ...
25
votes
2answers
1k views

The reasoning behind book dust jacket while there is a hardcover

I am wondering, what is the reason behind adding a dust jacket when a book has a hardcover as well. Initially, the purpose seems to be obvious: to protect the hardcover below it, so that it does not ...
7
votes
1answer
215 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, ...
2
votes
2answers
163 views

public transit bus stop and door buttons

Not directly software related, I wonder about UX design in public transit busses. In Germany, some time ago there was a simple system in public transit busses: If the bus was quite empty, and no one ...
2
votes
3answers
119 views

Is there a standard for the positioning of the elevator control buttons?

I've always wondered why elevator control buttons are found where they are. For example, the following image shows the elevator control buttons positioned on the right side. The way I see it, ...
16
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
524 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
529 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
841 views

What's the optimal seat arrangement for a self-driving car?

Take your average mid-sized sedan layout (though this is the view of an SUV, it should illustrate the idea for anyone who has never been in a car before.): You have a driver's seat and a ...
2
votes
4answers
275 views

Thermostat UIs make me guess and think too hard

Every digital thermostat panel I've come across - just HORRENDOUS! There's a temperature display. Fine. There's an up and down arrow. First thought, it's to change the temperature. Good. There's the ...
2
votes
2answers
127 views

Why are TV bezels there?

Isn't it true that LCD display units only have ribbon wirings on their bottom (or any one side)? So, this should leave the other sides from covering up their edges, shouldn't it? I have read somewhere ...
15
votes
11answers
1k 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 ...
-6
votes
1answer
290 views

Why AMBULANCE is written as ECNALUBMA on emergency vehicles?

Why is AMBULANCE sometimes mirror written on emergency vehicles ?
3
votes
3answers
132 views

Is it a good idea to set a different signal for performing a u-turn?

For a long time, I wondered why is there not a separate indication to signify a u-turn, e.g. the rear lights would have would have two segments for flickering lights - one spaced on top of the other - ...
196
votes
15answers
35k views

Why do washing machines have windows?

I'm curious why every front-loaded washing machine I've seen so far comes with a window, while other household machines, like dishwashers, don't. From a design or UI/UX perspective, why would one ...
2
votes
1answer
67 views

Do you know any good source for human-robot interactions?

"In most cases, user experience design (UX or UXD or UED) fully encompasses traditional human-computer interaction (HCI) design, and extends it by addressing all aspects of a product or service as ...
27
votes
12answers
655 views

How to stop people becoming marooned on a causeway

This question is based on a real world scenario… There is a causeway, roughly 1/4 of a mile long, over which the tide rapidly rises twice a day, rendering the tourist hot spot at the wrong end of it ...
4
votes
1answer
191 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
108 views

How to make microwaves meals easier to empty [closed]

There seems to be a problem with the common way to deliver a microwave meal. From a flat, compartmentalised tray contents must be tipped or spooned onto a plate in order to be eaten. If there are two ...
2
votes
3answers
197 views

UI for dimming light

What is the best / natural UI (User Interface) for dimming multiple lighting zones (LEDs) using a microcontroller? Here is what I have thought so far Use rotary encoder to up/dn the brightness Use ...
60
votes
4answers
4k views

Why do numpads on keyboards and phones have reversed layouts?

I came across this on the web. It's supposed to be funny, but we all know better :) So, why are the numpad layouts different, and what are the reasons behind each?
23
votes
5answers
1k views

Why don't chinese teacups have handles

I am mystified over the difference between an English tea cup and a Chinese tea cup. The difference is that a chinese teacup does not have a handle/"ear" while an English teacup does have a ...
81
votes
7answers
7k views

What reason could Nintendo have had for putting the A and B buttons the wrong way round?

When Nintendo brought out it's first game system, the NES, it had a controller with four buttons: Select Start A B However, somewhere, a designer, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the A and ...
0
votes
1answer
99 views

Why do most public buses and trains have a uniform chair height? [closed]

Given that different people have different heights, there seems to be for myself no reason why every chair in a bus has the same height. There could be different rows with different height and in an ...
182
votes
15answers
32k views

Why do most public toilet doors open inwards?

The design of public restrooms usually pays great attention to hand washing, providing facilities like wash basin - sometimes with touch free taps - soap dispenser, hand drier or paper towels... All ...
20
votes
5answers
794 views

Why do public restrooms place the paper holders so low?

Most public restrooms that I've used (in the US) place the paper holder very low, with the bottom of the roll (where you can grab the paper) below knee level when seated. This is not true in the ...
22
votes
6answers
828 views

Why do department stores create bad experiences with escalators?

In my local department store (House of Fraser, High Wycombe, UK) there are 3 floors with escalators in the middle of the store. It drives me a little bit crazy, because the direction the escalators ...
19
votes
6answers
4k views

Why does the Redbox machine have barriers around the credit card swipe reader?

Perhaps you've seen one of these before. A couple of inches above and below the magnetic stripe reader are protrusions that allow just enough room to swipe a credit card. The barriers are a ...
34
votes
6answers
1k views

Can stairs have a user experience?

Is there any UX consideration that goes into the design/construction of stairs? I know there are various local building codes and the ADA which regulate these things to some degree but stairs at ...
1
vote
1answer
96 views

Best practices for hardware keyboard input on tablet

I'm creating a form Android tablet app that will be used connected to a physical keyboard. The goal is to help users quickly fill out forms while visiting our conference booth. The tablets will be ...
15
votes
7answers
760 views

Is a book more user friendly than an e-book?

Lately I've had this thought that books were more user friendly than applications. Why do I say that? Because of these reasons: You can visibly see, at a given time where you are and how much you ...
2
votes
4answers
445 views

Why is there a contradiction between red in software and in workshop hardware?

If we often use red in software to warn someone to think before interacting with something, like a delete button for example, why do serious power tools like circular bench saws have big red buttons ...
36
votes
7answers
3k views

Why do ATMs need to take your card in?

In every ATM I've seen, the card is "swallowed" by the machine, and returned at one point or another (or not, if you type the wrong PIN 3 times or whatever). This leads to people forgetting the card, ...
16
votes
7answers
1k views

Why are AC adapters (wall warts) designed to block adjacent AC outlets?

The AC adapters for a lot of equipment seem to be specifically designed to block the AC outlets around it (this is in the US). Is this a safety feature to minimize the power to that outlet or just ...
25
votes
4answers
1k views

Why are normal water coolers so low?

A lot of water coolers look like this: You usually have to bend down in order to place your glass under the spigot and fill it, which is annoying it if you're doing it more than a few times a day, ...
23
votes
11answers
1k views

How to design a great unboxing experience?

I'm looking for examples or case studies for designing a manual for a physical as well as a digital product. We have an app which needs to be controlled by a physical checklist. Now I'm starting to ...
25
votes
8answers
3k views

Why do people mount TVs so high on the wall in their homes?

When I was a kid, movie theatres tended to have the screens fairly high and the seats were all at or near ground level (very gentle slope), meaning we all looked up at the screen. Over time people ...
3
votes
5answers
171 views

Would a 'Processing' indicator on pedestrian crossing controls be helpful - and if so how would it be designed?

Pedestrian Crossings used to be simple things where you pressed a button and light went on saying 'wait' and then you waited until the red man turned to a green man. However, modern crossings in the ...
13
votes
4answers
330 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 ...
331
votes
20answers
18k views

Why do people clear the screen multiple times when using a calculator?

I've noticed that most people when using a real or a virtual calculator, they hit the Clear button multiple times when clearing the screen (even though hitting it once is enough), so I started ...
1
vote
1answer
209 views

Why are switches with light indicator common but outlets are not?

Wall mount light switches that have a neat light indicator that turns on when the switch is in "off" position are quite common. The purpose is to make finding the switch in the dark easier. Looks ...
41
votes
12answers
3k views

Why do Microwave oven UIs fail?

I’m not a professional chef, but I do know my way around the kitchen and its machines. The dishwasher, the fridge, the freezer, the stove and the oven all works as expected in many homes. Could you ...
12
votes
4answers
526 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?
27
votes
12answers
1k views

Real-life UX: What's wrong with our coffee maker?

At Stack Exchange, we have a very expensive espresso machine - professional quality. However, we are having a persistent, companywide problem with its use. It seems that after using the wand to ...
5
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
266 views

Shower Controls

Having recently stayed in a hotel where the shower controls required the user to first pour cold water over themselves before it was possible to turn the control to the warm position: I wondered ...
113
votes
14answers
8k views

Who needs an external on/off Wi-Fi button?

It puzzles me that there are Laptops which are shipped with external physical Wi-Fi buttons. I see no real use of it, but it might have a historical explanation?! The only time one notice the external ...
2
votes
2answers
272 views

What is the psychology behind road markings on lanes unaffected by speed cameras?

In the UK, speed cameras are usually accompanied by white striped lines on the road. I have always assumed that was a visual reminder to the motorist to "watch your speed- it's about to be checked". ...