The home of the haikulator



My Stand-up & gigs
The Coding Craftsman

The Musical!
Incredible Productions


Previous Posts

Well, tickle my ass an' call me Mary Poppins...
I Almost Have A Shower
Richard Herring Is...
Little Shop, Little Shop Of Horrors
DJ Bobo
My Brain Aches
Narcissus Strikes Again
Panic Laying
The Tetchy Techie
I'm Losing It

Blog Archives

October 2001
November 2001
December 2001
January 2002
February 2002
March 2002
April 2002
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
August 2009
September 2009
January 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
October 2011
December 2011
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
May 2014
July 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
July 2016
August 2017
January 2018
August 2018
September 2018

Global Domination

Locations of visitors to this page

Friday, March 30

Getting Passionate About The Solution

I'm the sort of person that gets passionate about stuff - pretty much instantly. As soon as I know what is "right", then I can switch on the full force of my enthusiasm and I'm off. Of course, not every subject is a good source for passion, but when I'm in the zone, it can be almost overbearing when I give myself the free rein to unleash my enthusiasm (there are probably too many metaphors in this sentence).

Last night, in an epsiode of Subway, by which I mean I was in a Subway shop, having yet another placebo-healthy-sandwich, I had an epiphany. It was an obvious one, but it was so obvious that it had clearly eluded all concerned.

The door of the subway shop opens inwards. The only thing you can grab to pull it is a yale-style lock. This lock is not a latch, but in fact a dead bolt. You turn the lever through 180 degrees and the blot slides across. You turn it back and it unlocks. Simple. When unlocked, the lever can be used as a mini handle and the door just pops open. Of course people look at a yale and try to turn it, which would lock the door, so there's a neat 2" square sign above the yale which reads "To open door, just pull" or some such. I should have taken a photo.

Edit: I took photos

Anyway, I first found the door a tiny bit confusing, for like 3 seconds, then I learned to pull it. I can use a door. When I arrived at the shop last night, though, the door was pushed to, but the yale bolt was across, stopping the door from closing properly. "Oh, someone didn't know what they were doing with the door", I thought, "Perhaps they should learn, or read the sign". I regret thinking that.

I bought my sandwich, sat down, and a child came into the shop, bought a drink, went to the door to leave and started playing with the yale lock. I watched him, amused, as he locked us all in, unlocked us in, eventually looked at the sign, pulled, eventually got the door open, and then looked back, apologetically, as though it was not his fault, and left, feeling embarrassed.

Then it hit me.

It wasn't his fault. In fact, it's not anyone's fault that they don't know how to use that door. The door is to blame. I'm not being sarcastic. This door is to blame. There's a good reason we KNOW the door is to blame. It's the little laminated sign above the lock, the one means of opening the door (and also the means of rendering it unopenable and locked).

Now, I've harped on about the "Patronising Laminated Sign" before, but this 2" square of laminated paper is not a patronising sign. It's something else. This is the "Absolving Laminated Sign". The sign has been put in as a disclaimer. It really says "The responsibility for being unable to open the door is yours now". Why should a door, one of the simplest forms of machinery, require a sign to explain how to use it? There's no good reason that a door wouldn't be bloody obvious.

There is a reason in this case. The yale lock. The only means of opening the door is a small box with a lever on it. The lever "affords" turning. You turn the lever and the door is locked. In fact, the obvious thing to do with a lever is turn it, in the hope that it will release the door. The lock in this case is not the sort which disengages when you turn the lever in the unlocking direction - it has a roller-style end, which means it can be pulled open, even when slightly engaged in the frame. So turning the lever when the door is unlocked won't unlock it any more. It is totally non-obvious to grab a lever and just pull it.

The door needs a big fixed handle. The big fixed handle is what people instinctively would grab for and, since it only affords one action, pull towards them. All the people stumbling at the door can be fixed by taking off the sign and adding a handle. Whoever, fitted the door probably thought a handle was unnecessary, since the door will open from the inside by pulling anything that's fixed, like the yale lock. This "optimisation" has removed the need for a handle, but added a confusing means of using a door - i.e. pulling something that says "twist me".

So, I told the staff member who was serving. He understood, but I don't think he saw it as the revolution. He mentioned the suggestion box. I didn't see him joining my campaign. So I wrote a suggestion card out. I posted it in the box. Then I said to the other member of staff that I bet he'd seen loads of people struggling with the door. I explained about design, affordances and why the door's design is broken. It's really obvious anyway that you put a handle on a door, but somehow it eluded the person who wrote the sign. Writing a sign is not a solution. I told him that I would pay for the handle if it didn't prove to solve the problem.

Somehow I doubt a handle will appear.

If it does, then I will claim it as a victory.


Post a Comment

<< Home

All content ©2001 - 2012 Ashley Frieze