Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2006.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

User interaction 101

Posted 5 May 2006

Good usability is tough to come by, it seems.

The One True Way isn't always the best

I remember being stunned by a hotel my family stayed at in December. The light switch just inside the doorway controlled a power outlet at the far end of the room. In that socket, a lamp was plugged in. The idea is that, when you walk in the room in the dark, flipping the light switch will hit the light at the far end of the room; its placement immediately gives you a good idea of the layout of the room.

That's a Good Thing.

The truly astounding part was when I checked the lamp after fumbling to turn out the light when Frederick, Stephan, and I were trying to go to sleep: I could not find the lamp's twist knob! Turning over and looking, I discovered that the hotel proprietor had seen fit to have the lamp turned on and the knob snapped off.


There simply was no way to turn off the lamp without getting out of bed, flicking the light switch, and returning to bed in the dark. Far better would have been to leave the knob attached to the lamp, and make it Room Cleaning's responsibility to ensure that it is always on when they finish with the room. There are other solutions, too...like The Clapper.