Friday, 28 November 2003

Broken door locks

Also on This Is Broken, I read a post about a broken implementation of door locks (or maybe just signage) on US trains.

It reminded me of a news item about a month ago on local news: South Central Trains introduced some new carriages where the flush button for the toilet was placed on the wall above the toilet bowl. When the lid is up, the flush button is covered.

There's also an Emergency Stop button in the toilet cubicle - on the wall, next to the toilet. So some people have been pressing that when they intend to flush the toilet.

Two things wrong.

As we know from User Interface books, people don't read messages. They need to be kept short and simple, and work the way they expect. When exiting a program, we expect that any message box that pops up means 'You haven't saved your work! Exit now?' and hence expect to click No. There's a type of program which asks you even if there is no data to save. The automatic click on No is just infuriating, because you just have to try to close the program again, pressing the right button this time. ;-)

Secondly, it should be hard to press an emergency stop button for a train (not for a power tool, where it should be very easy). Emergency stop causes extreme discomfort for all passengers because it jams the brakes on hard, and requires the driver to go and find the problem, wasting everyone's time. So it should be somewhat out of the way, and require a firm push or pull to activate. The stop button on those trains looked like it could be brushed against accidentally.

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