It’s rainy season. Everywhere around me there is mismanagement. Many drainage lines are not working, walls and buildings are collapsing, people are washing away in floods because of illegal constructions, road blocks, potholes on the roads, and many more… this list might never ends. But hold on… these are not the only reasons I’m frustrated. One day this will change. There will be great leaders and good systems that will take care of these things. I’m pretty much sure!
Most of the times ‘ACCIDENTS’ happen with me when I’m handling the things
we need to handle every day. And that makes me frustrated!
In the morning when it’s chilled and I wanted to fill a bucket with water, I started the tap. “HOOOHOOO!!!”…. “OOPPSSS”… I started the shower. There were instructions to put mixer knob either on shower or normal tap. It’s on shower side. Errr… How did I forget to check the mixer knob?
When I wanted to enter in the office I pulled the door. “khattaakk!!!” sound like this made me stunned and people around me made me felt embarrassed. Am I done any mistake? Then I realized that there was an instruction written near the handle “PUSH” in bold and big font size. How did I miss this?
When I entered the ATM centre (after the “khattaakk” sound here as well); I inserted the card in the machine. It won’t work. Then I realized I inserted it wrongly. Picture of the card about ‘How to insert’ is near the slot. Well I missed it. Thank god ATM machines don’t have hands; else it would have slapped me by saying ‘Don’t you read the instructions. You educated guy, Huh? Get out!’ How did I miss that picture?
There are lot more ‘accidents’ but the point is why I make these ‘mistakes’. Then I realized that – hey, it’s not my mistake. Mixer knob should indicate me that it’s on shower mode, door should have handle that should be designed the way the door is going to work, and ATM card should be inserted only one way (remember the floppy disks!). One day I read the book ‘The Design of Everyday Things – Don Norman’ and that help me to understand that if we need to write the instructions near the design then it’s a bad design. Wooohhh…. what a relief. So I started analyzing things that make me frustrated.
I remember one very interesting experience when I was working in one of the big IT companies. Company policy changed about filling timesheet. They asked to start filling 9.5 hrs (that’s completely different topic whether it’s bring everyone frustration or not) in time sheet. It’s all started with frustration. Earlier there were more indications about the time anyone spent. Then it started showing only one indication of hrs. So everyone needed to do calculations to convert these times in decimals. Then everyone needed to minus half an hour for lunch time. Then after some days it started showing two indications for time – normal hours and hours in decimals. All employees still needed to minus half an hour. Why? Why can’t there be only indication that shows what hrs anyone should put in time sheet.
On time sheet page when someone wanted to view/enter previous week’s time slots; one alert message made me frustrated lot of time.
Check this picture and tell me how many of you want to continue and might click ‘OK’ and how many of you actually want to stay on the page and might click ‘Cancel’. I never understand what these (13504, 3621) numbers stand for. How could user will understand that when he/she needs to click on ‘Cancel’ button to perform ‘continue’ action and ‘OK’ for ‘cancel’? According to human psychology studies on usability and user behavior that user reaction on the various alerts while using the applications is that most of the time user notice only bold or capital or highlighted words. The unconscious state of the mind receives the messages and sends that how to react on the situation by analyzing the previous scenarios. Before reading the complete sentence and want to jump to the conclusion; the user makes false assumptions that ‘OK’ is for go ahead and ‘Cancel’ is for go back. According to usability heuristic evolution’s guidelines this comes under ‘Prevent Misinterpretation’ and has severity 1 (Very High). Well! sorry for the usability jargons! (Most of the times this is what happens on alert messages – language of the service providers) In short; alert messages should be very simple to understand. In better words it should have user’s language. Like: “You have unsaved data on this page. Do you still want to Continue?”
These and many other things are my own experiences that make me frustrate. I’m not here to criticize anything. I know many people are designing these functionalities to help. I just want to help to make these things better.
Being a usability expert I feel this is my responsibility and duty to make the world better place to live!
Share your bad design experiences with me that frustrate you… we will try to find solutions collectively!