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Anthony Steele's Blog

User interface usablity with spoken numbers

Just a quick note on something that was on my mind.

I knew someone who lived on a "Seven Sisters road", at number 20. She knew that "Seven Sisters" was a really bad name for a road. Just picture yourself phoning for a taxi at "Number 20, Seven Sisters road". Say it three times quickly if you're not hearing the issue.

Also "One" was a bad name for a train company - Imagine anouncements like "The 12:20 One service to Basingstoke is on time on platform three" People who arrive on platform 3 at 12:20:15 are going to be sorely disapointed.

Is there a moral for techies in this? Maybe. But it is a user interface design issue in the broader sense, and shows how user interfaces can mislead people, impair thier performance and cause frustration in ways that the original designer did not anticipate. Often "getting it right" just means not falling into any of a large number of potential pitfalls. Some of which are not obvious.

Published Wednesday, April 23, 2008 10:59 AM by Anthony.Steele

Comments

 

Paul.Dawson said:

The one that bugs me is the train company: First Great Western

When you sit in first class and don't have a first class ticket, you get fined. But I never know if I'm sitting in the 1st class bit, because they abbreviate their name to "First", so _all_ the carriages say "First" on them...

It's simply about not thinking through usage scenarios. You said it yourself "say it out loud..." - you need to hear or see other people's perspectives... or at least think them through!

April 26, 2008 7:26 PM
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Programmer in c# for Conchango

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