On my way to Australia last week I read a great article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “Defeating Feature Fatigue.” The article discussed a complex user interface for driving a BMW that, with over 700 features, required a “cheat sheet” for anyone who didn’t normally drive the car.
On the same overseas trip I had two experiences that reminded me careless design makes even easy things hard to use.
The first incident was at Auckland Airport, when I opened the door of a toilet that I thought was vacant. Imagine my surprise when an elderly foreign lady greeted me enthusiastically. She seemed relieved to have been rescued. You see, to open the door you couldn’t just operate a manual latch and pull the door. Instead you were required to press a button on a side wall some distance away, then pull the door. The woman had obviously figured out that she had to do something with the button, but who knows how long she had been standing there waiting for the door to automatically open. Read more »