Questions tagged [physical]

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

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495 votes
23 answers

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 ...
Mashhoor's user avatar
  • 5,787
139 votes
19 answers

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 ...
JohnGB's user avatar
  • 68.3k
135 votes
6 answers

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?
Vitaly Mijiritsky's user avatar
241 votes
15 answers

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, ...
daniel.sedlacek's user avatar
69 votes
7 answers

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 ...
joshschreuder's user avatar
106 votes
9 answers

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

When Nintendo brought out its 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 ...
Urbycoz's user avatar
  • 3,014
56 votes
14 answers

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 ...
Benny Skogberg's user avatar
47 votes
9 answers

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. ...
Vitaly Mijiritsky's user avatar
28 votes
4 answers

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 ...
Bobson's user avatar
  • 610
14 votes
3 answers

Elevator dispatch algorithm choice

We have a single elevator servicing an 8 level residential building. What might be the optimal elevator positioning algorithm to optimize user experience (primarily, wait time)? I was thinking ...
curious_cat's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers

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, ...
dwjohnston's user avatar
9 votes
6 answers

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 ...
UXbychoice's user avatar
  • 1,830
5 votes
5 answers

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 ...
PhillipW's user avatar
  • 11.2k
2 votes
2 answers

Method for usability testing of physical products

I am looking for a methodology for interaction testing of a physical product / interface. I am thinking something like expert testing (Heuristics) but just not for digital interfaces. Are there any ...
Jon Madsen's user avatar
263 votes
16 answers

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 ...
Marcel Otten's user avatar
  • 2,488
115 votes
20 answers

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 ...
Pavel Ronin's user avatar
  • 1,381
108 votes
13 answers

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 ...
Zaenille's user avatar
  • 2,787
86 votes
9 answers

Why is the "Record" icon always round and usually red?

I've been wondering why the symbol for 'record' is universally (AFAIK - has anyone seen exceptions?) a circle and usually red. Cameras, VCRs, voice recorders, smartphones, web apps... I've seen cases ...
Jessica Yang's user avatar
  • 1,985
75 votes
12 answers

Do signs printed on the road offer a significant advantage for the user over signs on a post?

I was driving earlier today and I came across a stretch of road that didn't have signs for the speed limit but instead had it written on the road like so: Image source It got me thinking that it ...
BDD's user avatar
  • 3,032
64 votes
3 answers

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). ...
Midas's user avatar
  • 6,547
52 votes
12 answers

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 ...
RoboShop's user avatar
  • 1,241
50 votes
6 answers

Why are messages on the road printed in reverse?

After reading this question, something occurred to me that I've always wondered - but never thought to ask. Why are road messages/signs printed in reverse? (source Anytime I ...
CodeMoose's user avatar
  • 594
49 votes
7 answers

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, ...
Jonathan's user avatar
  • 737
45 votes
3 answers

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 ...
Niet the Dark Absol's user avatar
28 votes
10 answers

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: ...
giraff's user avatar
  • 2,284
22 votes
3 answers

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

I often hear complaints 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 ...
Anixx's user avatar
  • 329
19 votes
5 answers

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 ...
Henrik Hansen's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers

Why do keyboard keys have (most) letters in top left corner?

I was just looking at my keyboard (Logitech K200) for the millionth time and realized that the names of each key were "mostly" in the top left. The row of numbers at the top is just left aligned with ...
supersam654's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers

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 ...
Michael Sorens's user avatar
10 votes
5 answers

Why do electric fan knobs often place the highest setting right after the off position?

Electric fans are often controlled by a knob which the user turns to power the fan on or off, and control the fan's speed. On a lot of fans, the knob goes immediately from the off position to the ...
Bitgarden's user avatar
  • 239
10 votes
5 answers

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 ...
Alejandro Veltri's user avatar
10 votes
4 answers

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'...
the_lotus's user avatar
  • 433
9 votes
7 answers

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 ...
Rich's user avatar
  • 3,532
9 votes
6 answers

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 ...
Urbycoz's user avatar
  • 3,014
8 votes
4 answers

Why do washing machines have so many modes of operation?

Every single modern washing machine has a significant number of functions, e.g. this machine from LG: There are 13 modes, 5 spin settings, 5 temperature settings, 4 extra functions, a Start button, ...
JonathanReez's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers

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 ...
GUI Junkie's user avatar
  • 1,759
8 votes
4 answers

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 ...
spencercw's user avatar
  • 183
7 votes
1 answer

Putting names on international business cards in a helpful way

With electronic transmission of contact infos (h/x/j/vCard, CardDAV, EAS etc.) it should be possible to store unambiguously the various parts of a person’s name and title as well as their gender and ...
Crissov's user avatar
  • 2,508
4 votes
4 answers

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 ...
Toni Leigh's user avatar
  • 7,818
4 votes
3 answers

UX to consider on a business card design

On a UX stance, what are the best practices to consider when designing a business card? I've done some research in order to find some that I might not have considered and I have to admit that I've ...
majimekun's user avatar
  • 1,064
4 votes
5 answers

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 ...
PhillipW's user avatar
  • 11.2k
3 votes
3 answers

Why are USB ports in laptops so close to each other?

A few months ago I wanted a new laptop, so I ordered it from a big brand considering its solid features (like Intel Core i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM etc.). The laptop is perfect and runs well, but it ...
Prahlad Yeri's user avatar