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

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360
votes
20answers
26k 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 ...
63
votes
4answers
5k 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?
184
votes
15answers
33k 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 ...
95
votes
19answers
11k 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 ...
84
votes
7answers
8k 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 ...
51
votes
6answers
7k views

Why don't ATMs give you cash before your card?

I live in Australia, so this might not apply worldwide, but here, when withdrawing money, the ATM will give me back my bank card, then several seconds later the cash comes out. This typically leads ...
31
votes
7answers
3k views

Why don't sandwich toasters have an on/off switch?

The absolute majority of electrical appliances have an On/Off switch. However, the absolute majority of sandwich toasters do not - you just plug them into the socket and unplug them when you're done. ...
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 ...
59
votes
8answers
13k views

Why do traffic lights have three separate light bulbs instead of having one?

Recently, I checked out a concept design for a traffic light with only one light. Do you know the exact reason for having three lamps in a row, instead of one like in this concept?
94
votes
20answers
12k 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 ...
34
votes
9answers
4k 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 ...
27
votes
10answers
2k views

Traffic lights: “yellow” is progress, not state

When thinking about how (real-world) traffic lights work, I wonder if there is a more intuitive way to display the yellow light. The meaning of Green and Red are states: Green: Ok, you can go! Red: ...
36
votes
7answers
4k 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, ...
9
votes
2answers
448 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
441 views

Which placement of list of ingredients is most convenient for the cook?

In the process of doing the layout for a cookbook, I'm faced with the problem of placing the list of ingredients for each recipe. I've looked at several cookbooks and seen numerous approaches. I can ...
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
3answers
775 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
503 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
211 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
468 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 ...