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

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197
votes
15answers
36k views

Why do most public toilet doors open inwards?

The design of most public restrooms greatly caters for the ability to wash hands after the use of the toilette, providing facilities like sinks - sometimes with touchless faucets - soap dispensers, ...
8
votes
3answers
455 views

Why are coiled cables rarely used?

Yesterday I saw an interesting idea: What are some potential reasons why so few cables have a coil in their middle - like old telephone cables? I know that we don't want all cables to be like that, ...
24
votes
7answers
6k views

How can a retractable pen design be enhanced to discourage users from clicking the pen frequently?

Retractable pens typically have a rather noisy mechanism. Some users periodically start pressing the pen button frequently (while they're talking on the phone or while they're waiting for some result ...
13
votes
5answers
413 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
99 views

The usefulness of home appliances sound notification?

In our homes we now have home appliances such as a dish washing machine, a microwave oven, a washing machine, a tumble drier. Every one of these appliances makes a little sound notification when it's ...
3
votes
1answer
63 views

What is the best way to visually indicate correct plug alignment with socket (hardware)?

I currently have a problem where users are not correctly aligning a plug with a socket on an electrical device, leading to the plug being forced and the pins breaking. Users have suggested putting ...
0
votes
2answers
157 views

Why is the groundfloor G on some lifts, and 1 on others?

The lift at my work for example, groundfloor is '1' and the next floor up is '2' and so on. Whereas other lifts, ground floor is 'G' and the next floor up is '1'. Is there a reason for this ...
7
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
26
votes
8answers
6k 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 ...
11
votes
13answers
4k 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: ...
13
votes
2answers
271 views

What was the reason behind total transition towards wide screen displays by the manufacturers?

I often hear complains by users who are not satisfied by the wide-screen monitors and prefer traditional screen ratios of 4:3 and 5:4. Unfortunately such monitors now are quite rare and the laptops ...
29
votes
16answers
6k views

Traffic lights: why yellow before green?

Traffic lights around the world use the yellow light to warn people that it will soon turn to red, so that people can stop before. This is perfectly understandable. However, I found out that in some ...
38
votes
11answers
6k views

Why don't most elevator panels let you unselect?

We've all seen it in the movies where a kid will push all the buttons in an elevator. We've all likely done it - accidentally hit the wrong floor. There's no unselect after you select a floor in an ...
100
votes
19answers
16k views

Which way should be “on” for a switch?

Most of us use switches every day in various forms. And although there are sometimes general norms in countries as to which direction is "on", there is variation between countries. So when ...
1
vote
4answers
137 views

How to design a physical device?

I have an idea for a product startup. It is a wearable device with one functionality, around which I and my friend started to think. We are pretty sure that we can develop it with only this ...
121
votes
12answers
21k views

Why do idle elevators close the doors?

If the elevator stops on a floor, opens the doors to let the passengers out, and hasn't received a command to go on another floor, why does it close its doors afterwards? If the elevator is not on my ...
0
votes
2answers
184 views

Is there a benefit from driving on one side of the road, while sitting in the other side of the car?

I've noticed that cars/automobiles manufactured for countries with right-hand traffic (where vehicles drive on the right hand side of the road) place the driver's seat on the left hand side of the car ...
14
votes
3answers
2k 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 (top view) by default. This forces you to move/arrange heavy things with your ...
7
votes
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 ...
2
votes
6answers
225 views

Volume controls and mute order

I'm designing a remote control that only have Volume Up, Volume Down and Mute. But I can't decide where to put the mute button, in the middle or on the bottom. And what should I have for the Mute ...
2
votes
3answers
316 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, ...
5
votes
4answers
207 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, ...
9
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
170 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 two segments for flickering lights - one spaced on top of the other - as to ...
381
votes
24answers
29k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
87
votes
8answers
9k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
472 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
880 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

Board game design: Which design is clearest to indicate failure?

I'm trying to design a board game (and am not an artist) but want to ensure that I've got some practical aspects designed appropriately for the layout of a card. I tried asking on ...
4
votes
2answers
961 views

Why most of the microphones are placed on the left of headsets / headphones?

I've noticed that the mayority of the well-known brands (Sennheiser, Logitech, Plantronics, Razer, SteelSeries, Audio-Technica, Phillips, etc) tend to make headsets with the microphone on the left, is ...
4
votes
6answers
194 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 ...
1
vote
5answers
143 views

What is the best way to arrange chinese words on a menu [closed]

On a English menu , the food items can be arranged according to alphabetical order For a Chinese menu , there are no alphabet, only chinese characters , what would be alternative way best to ...
38
votes
7answers
5k 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, ...
40
votes
2answers
2k views

Why don't ATMs show blank arrows for unused buttons? [closed]

Have you ever had trouble lining the arrows up with the correct button on ATM consoles and other similar interfaces? Height of user can affect perceived alignment, as well as poor installation or ...
0
votes
2answers
171 views

Optimising urinal use [closed]

When you visit a urinal (so one for the gents), you’ll find that where urinals are arranged in groups of 3, the middle urinal and floor are typically cleaner than those to either side. This stems from ...
-1
votes
1answer
215 views

What shape should toilet seats be? [closed]

This is something which has been annoying me for a while now. It seems a simple question: what shape of toilet seat is nicer for the user? However, I've asked around a bit and there's quite a lot of ...
2
votes
3answers
134 views

How technical should airline pilots be?

I've been on a few flights recently, and idly listening to the captain talking to the passengers got me thinking: The captain's world is very different from the passengers' world. The captain has to ...
98
votes
20answers
13k views

Toilet flush buttons

This question has been bugging me ever since I've started learning usability. I am talking about the two buttons for the flush : Full and half container. On one hand, the button shape has to ...
28
votes
9answers
3k views

How can wiring systems be designed to not rely solely on colour?

Yesterday I was faced with the challenge of replacing the stock radio in my vehicle. The stock radio had broken, and it was time for a new one. As it is, building the proper wiring harness is already ...
116
votes
14answers
10k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
171 views

Toaster's “bagel button” does not work. UX or engineering issue? [closed]

Below is picture of my toaster's front panel. I put bread in, press the "bagel" button, and a bagel does not come out. I simple get toasted bread. A bagel is totally different. I claim this is an ...
4
votes
1answer
220 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
87 views

Do new pedestrian crossing buttons show an activated state?

I think many people are familiar with the situation of people waiting at the pedestrian crossing and repeatedly pressing (sometimes bashing) the button in the belief that it might somehow speed up the ...
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. ...
3
votes
2answers
251 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 ...
50
votes
8answers
10k views

“Do Not Disturb” tags in hotels, how can they be improved?

We've seen keys being replaced by key cards, new LCD TVs, WiFi and LAN in each room but the one thing that doesn't seem to have changed is the "Do Not Disturb" tag that can be hung on the doorknob ...
12
votes
3answers
721 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 ...
-7
votes
1answer
1k views

Why AMBULANCE is written as ECNALUBMA on emergency vehicles?

Why is AMBULANCE sometimes mirror written on emergency vehicles ?
8
votes
3answers
907 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 ...