Push pull doors


Heres a picture of my favourite door handle design.
its got a 30 x 100 sign saying push and a 20 x 200 handle screaming PULL.
Most ‘normal’ people try to pull the handle because its such a well understood concept. But for people who cant read like young Mark in the picture – they have no chance. At 5 he can’t yet read the 4 letter sign, but he totally understands you pull handles that look like they should be pulled.

This push/pull handle is a commonly used example (and a very good one) of usability, or lack of it.
In the crap web app I was on about recently, to delete a number you have to over type it with ‘0’. There is a remove button, but it is never enabled. To me this is as bad as the door handle.

I often find when I get someone to sit down and use something I have written, they go through this pull/push hassle. I am always glad I am there to witness it, and get suggestions for improvement. In general, these days I get the users to specify the text that goes into dialogs and message boxes.

What examples of misleading interfaces have you noticed recently?



5 Responses to “Push pull doors”

  1. Harlan Grove Says:

    Not misleading but user-hostile. A VB.Net frontend on an Excel model. There’s a drop-down list for regional offices followed by a button to display a dialog with another drop down list of teams within the regional office selected. There haven’t been any teams added in any of the offices since 2004, and then only because the Los Angeles office added a ‘satelite’ office in Phoenix. In most of the offices (including New York) there’s only one team.

    There’s no good reason office AND team aren’t in the same drop-down list, and there’s no good reason the only team isn’t loaded automatically in offices with only one team. It seems like they must be ENTERED separately because they’re stored as separate fields in a database and the developers couldn’t figure out how to split a single entry into multiple fields.

    Actually, separate entry of the fields isn’t as annoying as the steps involved currently. The office entry is a combo box drop-down in the main screen (a big dialog) of the application, but the team entry is a button displaying ‘Team>>’ followed by a text box. Clicking the Team>> button displays a smaller dialog containing a combo box with a drop-down and OK and Cancel buttons. So instead of just a Team drop-down on the main screen, users have to click the Team button, select from the drop-down, then click an OK button. 3 actions rather than 1 is ba

  2. Biggus Dickus Says:

    Go here to see propbably my favourite cartoon of all time:

    Far Side--gifted school-726975

    (this is just where I found the cartoon – don’t know what Flickr is but it looks harmless)

  3. Marcus Says:

    Well done Biggus – it was exactly the cartoon I was thinking of.

    One pet peeve is interfaces which try to mimic the real world too closely. You can only push a mataphor so far. Example: Those audio/video players which have a round dial to adjust the volume forcing you to motion the cursor in a circle.

  4. Jon Peltier Says:

    Compared to the evolved interface of Excel 2003, I find the intelligently designed interface of Excel 2007 to be full of Push-Pull items. Not always that you have to do the opposite of what you expect, but because you have to take many steps to do what few steps used to do.

    The fact that double clicking no longer launches the Format dialog box is a biggie. When you set your axis scales, clicking Fixed does not highlight the value in the box, and you can no longer highlight the value in the box until Fixed is selected. Putting line color and line style onto different dialog tabs seems to consume extra clicks.

    I ran into an example of Simon’s “to delete a number you have to over type it with ‘0’” problem. Add error bars to a series, choose custom and click on the button (why it needed a button to show the range entry boxes, when prior versions put them onto the same dialog, I don’t know). If you want to set one of the default entry of ‘={1}’ to nothing, you can’t delete the entry box, or ehter 0, or anything. You have to enter ‘={0}’. This took me, a renowned charting expert, ten minutes to figure out; so I imagine it is undiscoverable to the majority of users.

  5. Simon Says:

    Great comment on evolved v ‘intelligently designed’

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