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Questions tagged [physical]

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

60
votes
12answers
25k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
147 views

Why are tactile ground surface indicators potential slip hazards?

For those who are not familiar with the technical sounding term for something that you see in normal everyday life in the city, tactile pavings, also known as tactile ground surface indicators (TGSI) ...
3
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
51 views

Physical device and app user testing

I'm looking for any resources that you might know of that deals with user testing a physical device, in this case, a toy, that works with an app. I've searched a few times and haven't found any ...
122
votes
6answers
33k 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?
1
vote
1answer
97 views

Why is there a small gap between the usb port and laptop skin? [closed]

I've noticed a small gap between the point the USB port starts (metal part) and the external surface of the laptop or PC. You can clearly see it in the picture. . Thanks
9
votes
4answers
2k 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'...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do folding stepladders have “not-a-step” steps?

Stepladders are typically labelled with a warning sticker that says: ⚠️ Danger: Do not stand on top step or, sometimes on the second-from-the-top step: ⚠️ Do not stand on or above this rung or ...
251
votes
14answers
45k views

What's wrong with USB sticks that you need 3 tries to plug them in correctly?

You've all probably experienced this at least once: trying multiple times to plug in a USB stick correctly, because somehow it isn't intuitive what side goes up. This is especially the case when the ...
22
votes
14answers
17k 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: ...
10
votes
4answers
641 views

Metro station stop design to prevent people from commiting suicide

How to design a metro train stop that would prevent people from endangering themselves by accessing the rails when a metro arrives (perhaps by implementing the design of special doors or elevators ...
47
votes
11answers
13k 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 handle/"...
6
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is the R in front of the D gear in cars (and vice versa)?

Most (or all) cars that have an automatic transmission have the reverse gear in front of the drive (forward) gear (and vice versa). What was the reasoning behind putting reverse (R) in the front and ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Should a light switch be small or big, or does this depend on other factors? [closed]

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 ...
35
votes
11answers
12k views

Door handle on automatic doors - why?

I was traveling by train, and I came across the board toilet in the picture below: Unlike other board toilets I encountered so far, this one had an automatic door. At least this is what I suspected ...
22
votes
6answers
37k views

Why do stairs have overhangs?

Most stairs (at least here in the US) have an overhang or 'nosing' where the edge of the stair protrudes over the riser: I've heard different reasons for why the nosing exists, but I've not been able ...
5
votes
3answers
231 views

does a pushed button with I and O on it mean it is on or off

I am trying to charge a childs electric car. It says to make sure it is in the off position while charging. However, it is a button that goes in or out. How do I know whether pushing the button in ...
5
votes
1answer
136 views

Are shoelaces replaceable by more usable alternatives? If so why are they still so common?

Compared to alternatives like velcro (which have been around for quite some time) or mechanisms that allow you to tighten shoes with a twisting mechanism (as seen on some of the football boots), ...
2
votes
1answer
43 views

Design systems that cover both physical and digital use cases

When companies created design systems, it is typically applied to their products and services rather than something that can be used throughout the entire organisations. Atlassian's update of their ...
7
votes
2answers
201 views

Direct users to use a physical button

I'm designing a touch screen user interface to control a physical robot. The interface also includes physical buttons, similar to how a cell phone has touch screen elements and physical home buttons, ...
36
votes
8answers
26k views

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

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 ...
7
votes
2answers
797 views

Why is the button to open a microwave door always hard to push? [closed]

Every microwave I've encountered always has the same feature - an unusually resistant "open microwave door" button. Why is the button to open a microwave door always more resistant than buttons on ...
149
votes
9answers
43k views

What's the purpose of “This page is intentionally left blank” we see in books?

What's the purpose of "This page is intentionally left blank" we see in books? Why not just leave the page blank and write nothing on it?
0
votes
1answer
78 views

Alternative to “click cycle” without cumbersome UI?

The A/V receiver in my living room has a "click cycle" functionality. There's a button labeled "Mode." It changes the mode every time you press it. If you accidentally miss the desired option, you ...
2
votes
0answers
56 views

Why are European recycling codes so complicated? [closed]

Each time I recycle my garbage, I must wonder why are these European recycling symbols so complicated. For example this one: This symbol is really cryptic for me as a user. PP could stand for both "...
21
votes
17answers
14k views

How can I get people not to put trash in recycling bins?

In my office space we have a main trash can and "recycling" can in the break room. They are simply two bins, with the same color, that are hidden in a cabinet. Outside of the cabinet are two doors,...
159
votes
12answers
27k 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 ...
25
votes
7answers
15k 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 ...
57
votes
11answers
15k views

Why do most smartphones not have a physical keyboard?

The vast majority of smartphones sold today use a 'bar' or 'slate' form-factor, with a large screen which uses an on-screen keyboard. Blackberry are the one obvious manufacturer who still produce ...
62
votes
3answers
21k views

Why are aluminium soda cans typically round instead of square?

Why are beverage cans usually round? Considering the amount that are made, and the need to be transported - isn't a round design inefficient? (ie the lost space from not tightly fitting together). ...
14
votes
6answers
4k views

Why don't toilet doors also latch and change their status when closed? [closed]

On aeroplanes when the passenger closes the toilet door it keeps the door closed and changes the status to occupied in a separate (or sometimes the same) action as closing the door. I am wondering if ...
100
votes
8answers
15k views

What reason could Nintendo have had for putting the A and B buttons in a non-alphabetical order?

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 B ...
10
votes
3answers
542 views

Why do 4-wheel suitcases usually have their wheels on the short side, rather than the long side?

In a 4-wheeled suitcase, there are three possible ends to put the wheels. Most commonly, the wheels are at the short end: Public domain image I find it hard to keep them on 4 wheels; one has to ...
16
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
32
votes
5answers
3k 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, ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Why are car keys and house keys different?

When inserting a car key into the ignition, I am able to do so quickly and easily, without having to carefully line up the key with the keyhole. I can do this despite the fact that the keyhole is ...
4
votes
5answers
819 views

ALL CAPS fonts for industrial use

I'm on a plane and noticed the use of all caps on the flight crew phone: Generally I found the phone very well designed: it has rounded colors, decent contrast, is unobtrusive for passengers, and ...
11
votes
2answers
5k 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, ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Where are the most optimal places to put laptop speakers?

I got one of these computers for Christmas. Overall, I thought it was a pretty average laptop.... ...except for one thing, the speakers. The speakers are placed at the lower left and right hand ...
3
votes
2answers
326 views

Car safety assist dropping speed automatically

Would this be considered good UX if the car in safety assist mode would drop the speed automatically to adjust with the car in front instead of informing the driver of getting too close? This is ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

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

The RBRC battery recycling logo was recently updated to add a dash to the final digit 7 (seven) in the phone number: Does this make the phone number more legible? In what situations, if any, is ...
69
votes
8answers
23k 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?
41
votes
4answers
7k views

Why do we prefer shiny finish on cars and dull finish on devices?

Across the board, cars have shiny paint (which looks great), while computers, laptops and phones etc. tend to have a dull finish to them. What’s the logic/psychology behind this?
1
vote
1answer
292 views

Is there evidence that shows stairs with open risers are less safe than those with risers

I know code allows open risers but I am trying to find more definitive information on safe design. As usual, opinion and anecdote is easy to find but I haven't seen a more academic/scientific look at, ...
21
votes
8answers
9k 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. ...
1
vote
2answers
73 views

Visibility of touch buttons?

At my workplace, I have a monitor of reputed company with touch buttons with back-light which aren't visible unless the monitor is switched on. This includes the power button. Occasionally, I spend ...
103
votes
13answers
26k views

Why do showers have “hot” and “cold” knobs rather than “temperature” and “quantity” knobs?

I do not understand the advantage of the popular "hot" and "cold" controls in showers, as opposed to "temperature" and "quantity" controls. Is it simply because the latter option is harder to ...
31
votes
13answers
3k 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
347 views

The return of skeuomorphism and the importance of physical design in UX [closed]

I read all articles that talk about trends with interest, as my personal philosophy with UX design is not to go with the latest trends but pick the solution that best solves the problem. So it was ...