This will be an ongoing post about usability observations that I encounter, both in the digital and the physical world.
False affordance fridge
The first entry in this post is the case that motivated me to start this post in the first place.
I once attended a meetup for the Amsterdam UX group at Usabilla in Amsterdam.
In the corner of the room there was a big fridge with free beer and soda. The fridge stood in a transportable rack, probably hired from some catering service.
At some point I wanted to get some drinks from the fridge. I walked up to the fridge, grabbed the door handle and pulled.. only to find out that I was not holding the fridge door handle but the rack railing. Slightly embarrassed, I quickly grabbed the correct handle.
The transportable rack had long silver railings on the sides that accidentally provided a false affordance.
3 out of 5 people first grabbed the rack railing instead of the fridge door handle.
Now while I was talking to some attendees, I saw people come and go, taking drinks from the fridge. 3 out of 5 people first grabbed the rack railing instead of the fridge door handle. Over and over again.
Later in the evening I volunteered to get a new round of drinks and I almost(!) made the same mistake again.
Below is a photo of the meetup, on the left side you see the rack and fridge. If you look at the photo you may think ‘duh, obviously it’s not the door handle’. This is a good example of the necessity to test in the wild: On ‘paper’, things may look logical and straightforward, but in context and real usage, things may turn out surprisingly different.
In Holland, at intersections, we have these buttons that pedestrians (and bicyclists) can press to indicate that they want to cross the road. After pressing the button, it takes a short while for the cars traffic lights to turn red so that pedestrians can cross. There are probably many types of these buttons, but for this case I want to illustrate the most basic classic button and how even this button can benefit from the slightest hint of feedback – assuring the pedestrian that his call was registrered (hey things get broken once in a while right?)
Coming soon n_n’