Everyday Things

Favorite Wine Bottle Opener

I thought I’d start my first post by talking about how my first exposure to HCI changed the way I viewed the world. I remember sitting in my class (way back in 1997) and the teacher talking about how everything around you is designed, some good and some bad. We discussed light switches for long rooms and how difficult it was to find the right switch. We discussed a crazy door down the hallway that people always ran into because it looked like you should push it, when actually you needed to pull it. This one lecture opened my eyes. I now constantly evaluate everything around me. I get excited when I see something well designed. Most people think I’m obsessive when I show them the beauty of an object, e.g. a wine bottle opener!

Since having my little boy (who is now 2 years old), I have a whole new world of things to review. And, now that he’s started preschool, I am again impressed with how good, simple design works. His classroom is full of activities. However, every activity has its place. And its all organized so even toddlers can find what they need to do their jobs. (Yes, I said “job.” My son goes to Montessori school and all play is “work.”) Each work area is arranged so that they have everything they need to do the task. For example, the hand washing station has a pitcher of water, a bowl, a bar of soap, and a towel. Everything you need to learn how to wash your hands within perfect reach.

As I am constantly evaluating things I interact with in the real world, I am also constantly analyzing anything I run across virtually. We can all learn from the simplicity of a preschool classroom. Keep it simple:

  • only show what your user needs when he needs it
  • keep everything neat and organized
  • and above all…  have fun and don’t forget to take your nap!

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