The Human Factor
September 30th, 2010
Yesterday, I was on a panel (When not to use User Centered Design techniques) at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. My badge (showing my country as United States ates) was too wide for my badge holder. Sure, it’s a cliche to bash design conferences for their poor usability, but really?!
Also: see the slides from my presentation here.
May 27th, 2005
Two experiences of note with audio
i) Continental Airlines shows ads on their flights, before they begin the in-flight programming. In other words, through the regular audio system, not the headphone systems. The ads are very very loud. Painfully loud. You’re strapped into your seat and you can’t get away. The screens drop down, the audio starts. You have nowhere else to look and even with my fingers in my ears I could hear every damn noise in the Verizon and Are We There Yet? ads. Blecchgh.
ii) Walking through Midtown Manhattan this morning, I saw the all-too-familiar emergency-vehicle-gridlock scenario. An ambulance or fire truck is rushing somewhere, sirens wailing, but there’s nowhere for them to go – the lanes in front of them are blocked, so they sound the air horn, over and over again, to very little avail. Only this time it was slightly different – the ambulance in question had a modified type of siren, akin to the “wheep-WHEEP” they sometimes use as a honk, but it was almost verbal in its wide range of fluctuations. There was a large “vocabulary” if you will, and it seemed to convey more urgency, rather than rote pressure. I’m sure there is a human-factors alarm attendance specialist who designed this stuff (or at least who has written about it somewhere), but I’d never heard of it or heard it. I’m sure that eventually people will become used to it and tune it out, but since it was new to me, it caught my attention.