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Imagine you're operating a machine doing several jobs a day. Each time you start a job, you have to look at a screen to check and possibly change the machine settings.

I know that, from force of habit, people will through sheer boredom just hit the return key / repeatedly hit the 'Y' key / whatever to get through the settings quickly. And yet it's vital that the machine settings are really checked!

Other than randomly changing the position of the entry fields every time the user is queried for the machine settings - which I would have thought might be irritating and have the equally undesirable effect of slowing the operation down too much - how might this be done?

  • Could we have more details on what the job entails and what the settings are like? Maybe a screenshot of your existing design would help too – EDM Dec 12 '14 at 2:05
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I had a project manager once who insisted that dialog boxes randomize the arrangement of the buttons so that users didn't get in the habit of just clicking through the confirmations. At first, I hated the idea, but after seeing the results, I still do it in new projects, twenty years later.

Unfortunately, just rearranging a few controls is probably inadequate for your need because your users will just become skilled at finding the confirmation button, without ever looking at the settings which need to be checked.

I would suggest that you add a random settings question to the bottom of the screen which must be answered correctly to enable the confirmation button. For example...

If there are twenty settings on the page, you could ask them to enter the value in the fourteenth one. That forces them to look up at the page and figure out which one is the fourteenth. Next time, you could ask for a setting value by name. The trick is to force them to look up at the page and think before proceeding.

Also, if there are any inherent relationships between the settings, they should be validated on every keystroke/mouse click and errors should be highlighted with color. For example, if setting 3 can only be between 1.4 and 1.9 when setting 6 is positive, and if setting 3 is outside that range while setting 6 is positive, both fields should be bright red. Give your users every visible clue possible to make their very boring job easier.

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After each job is completed, you could have the system revert all settings to off, so that the user is forced to turn on the appropriate settings for the job at hand before they can proceed.

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