Friday, August 11, 2006

the simple things

chivas on the rocks and some aural delights. what more could a man want? this is the way to spend an evening.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Elvetaor btutnos and the cgontiive prcoses ivonveld

Intially a comment to my brothers blog post at, which he urged me to post in its own right.

Lift doors. So true. They both look very similar and can take a while to cognitively process which one does which. What would be the best way to represent 'open' and 'close' for the doors? Using english would be obvious, but limited to english reading people. So depends on surrounding circumstances and boundaries for the task. Nothing is black and white. Everything is grey.

I think the reason why you, and i, and i would hedge my bets that it would be the same with the majority of people (whether they are aware of it or not), would struggle with this (ie. take a few seconds to process and determine the desired button) is:

1. Because the two buttons consist of the same symbols (generally two arrows and a line from memory). Just did a quick google for 'elevator buttons' - i chose 'elevator' as opposed to 'lift' as i thought it would produce more meaningful results - ps. i love side tracks and deeper notes as this is how my (and i believe your) mind works. lol. Anyway, one page listed this, 'No one can recognize the standard open-door icon quickly enough to prevent the door from shutting in the face of a would-be passenger.' Which supports the theory proposed.

2. That ones mind needs to cognitively process several symbols in an indepth way - ie. Viewing two sets of buttons closely related - causing potential anxiety of some sort to ascertain the difference, and often under a time pressure to 'hold' aka 'open' the lift door for someone to enter. Ascertaining the meaning of the sequential order they are in, i feel may be linked to the concept of the paragraph composed of jumbled letters - which can easily be read by most humans. Technically, they could both be read as the same symbol (meaning) - as both are familiar symbols. I believe the thought process behind ascertaining the meaning of the elevator button symbol is that one looks at the two arrows on the one button, determines which way they are facing, and then consciously (and i think this may be where the major time lag occurs) matches this with the word 'open' or 'close' which i believe would generally be the keywords someone would be wanting as an action from the button press.

My initial recommendation from top of head - which would at least, i feel be an improvement - would be to use the words 'open' and 'close' as well as the symbols - which would give english readers the 'instant' recognition of the keyword action they desire - as well as catering for non-english reading people through the use of the current symbol. Whether one could design a better symbol is the next step - and something i would like to think about more.

It is interesting to consider the likely thought process that went behind the design of these button. As when one has drawn it on paper and looks at them together it appears like a clear straight-forward way to design them (Envisaged mental thought process of designer: yep, that makes sense and appears to be the most relatively simple way to design them). However, this does not include the situational factors - that i feel soooo many people and businesses fail to recognise or be aware of - and that can play a CRUCIAL role in the success of things. Based on, i believe, the fact that humans love things to be simple to use - and can turn off or give up if they are not. User interface design is so my passion if you cannot tell. I feel it is just common sense, but hey, people skilled at communication would likely consider their skill to be common-sense ...perhaps. What do you think Nathaniel? It is interesting, as i mention your full name, you would have had certain emotions and thoughts running through your head. And this is the kind of thing that you and i are quite acutely aware of. Are others? Anyone? Anyone? haha, coz i know you will 'get this' too. I decided to put 'get this' in quotes to highlight it more, as some people may not have understood what this means. 'understood this' may have actually been the best words to use, however that would nullify the need for the last couple sentences of insights. lol, anyway, i digress - and i do not apologize for that - nor think that you would expect an apology.

I would love to produce a set of standards for elevator control panels - ranging from labelling of floors (ie. under ground floor labelling) to the actual design for the 'open' and 'close' buttons. Hey, i may do this, just for something to do. :) Side note: have you ever thought about how a 4 storey building generally only goes up to level 3 on the elevator control panel?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


A popular word to get wickered (vandalised on wikipedia).

Cheese: "This one gets vandalized regularly. One anonymous IP said that cheese was made out of the ‘pubic hair of migratory elephants.'"

Today's Woman


Source: Big W catalogue, page 5, SA (Sales ends Wed 9 August)