Posts tagged “automatic”

Do This Don’t Do That Can’t You Read The Sign?

Earlier this week I spent the day with the design team of a global technology company. I can’t say much more but I can share a couple of photographs from different bathrooms.

The standard soap dispenser has been repurposed for hand lotion. The soap comes from the other kind of standard dispenser, a foot away, next to the sink.

Washing your hands is a fairly unconscious behavior, you assess the space visually and quickly move through the various tasks…so who stops to read the sign that says Hand Lotion? That sign serves more of a “here’s how you messed up, buddy” explanation than as a preventative measure. I had a hard time stopping myself from getting hand lotion when I wanted soap.

We did have a group discussion about observing signs in the environment to identify workarounds and opportunities for improvement and so I was pleased to have an example from their environment to share back. This ended up in the always enjoyable men’s bathroom vs. women’s bathroom comparison…in this office the women’s bathroom includes a dispenser for hand sanitizer (in addition to soap and lotion). Unfortunately I didn’t get in there to take a picture. But, oh, the mode errors!

I was struck by the presumed need for this sign in a different bathroom, explaining what locked and unlocked look like. I had this quick “well that’s dumb” reaction, took the picture, used the facility, and then upon exiting realized that I had failed to lock the door! I’m not sure exactly how I managed to not lock it, since that is another automatic behavior.

In both cases, the signs themselves caught my attention, but I still exhibited the behavior they were trying to prevent (taking lotion instead of soap, leaving the door unlocked).

See also Signs To Override Human Nature, previously.


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