Response Crafting

User design always matters – even in the restroom

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Can you name at least three unintelligent things about this user design?

Here are some things I see:
1. The default way of flushing is to press the handle down, not up. Since we more often flush for “liquid waste” rather than “solid,” the former use should be associated with the motion most familiar to us. We should press “down” for liquid waste.
2. This signage was found in a corporate campus. The labels “#1” and “#2” have, in my esteem, fairly juvenile connotations, and are probably not best suited to a professional setting.
3. And if you’re going to go on to define “#1” and “#2” as “liquid” and “solid” waste anyway, why even include the “number” terminology to begin with?
4. Unless the “germ-protecting” handle coating is truly cast from antibacterial plastic, this is a misnomer. The only detectable difference in the handle was that it was bright green plastic rather than the typical silver; a design choice that far more likely intended to draw attention to the design and signage than it was to truly protect against “germs.”
5. Language and symbols should directly complement one another. If the words “up” and “down” are used, the corresponding arrows should also point “up” and “down,” not curved.
6. And most importantly: if your signage requires more language than symbols, it is not designed intelligently or intuitively enough.

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