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Permanent Whiteboard Markers

Posted in all posts, design, user testing by coleman yee on January 8, 2011

We were having a brainstorm at a client’s meeting room when when someone made the classic mistake of writing on the whiteboard with a permanent marker.

That wouldn’t have happened if the permanent marker wasn’t put at the whiteboard, together with all the other (non-permanent) whiteboard markers. And that wouldn’t have happened if the permanent marker didn’t look like this:

In case you didn’t notice, the one above is the permanent marker; the one below is the (erasable) whiteboard marker.

Things like this make you wonder – what were they thinking?

(In case you’re wondering what I did to the permanent marker after taking the photo – I put it away outside the meeting room.)

On a related note… another thing that puzzles me, is how when someone writes on a whiteboard and finds that the marker is out of ink, they often just place the marker back where they got it from (and try their luck with another marker).

As for me, I dispose it ASAP.

No one else needs to waste time on that marker ever again.

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User-Tested Designs

Posted in accessibility, all posts, design, user testing by coleman yee on March 7, 2007

In design for users, user testing is often crucial, especially when the designer isn’t already very experienced in the area, or when comprehensive guidelines or heuristics aren’t available.

A couple of years ago, I followed some wheelchair-bound people around critique the accessibility of some new buildings that were designed with accessibility in mind.

The next picture is of the bathroom at a condominium clubhouse. The picture doesn’t show the handle bar on the right wall beside the toilet, but it’s there. Is this friendly for a wheelchair user?

wheelchair-friendly bathroom

The designer probably tried their best, and I thought their design was pretty decent. Then I saw the next one:

bathroom with shower seat for disabled

This bathroom is at a rehabilitative hospital, where many of the users are actually wheelchair users.

The obvious difference between this bathroom and the first one is that gray plastic seat folded up against the right wall, for a wheelchair user to sit on while having a shower. In the first bathroom, the wheelchair user would have to shower the wheelchair as well – not a good idea.

The first bathroom was designed with the help of (inadequate) guidelines, while the second one was user-tested. The difference would be glaring to a wheelchair user who wants to shower.

And once in a while, you encounter really bad designs.
bathroom with toilet paper far from the toilet bowl

Maybe the users have very long arms.

(Last picture via Chris Hielmann)

Update:

Here’s an interesting comment from Kim & Sophie that’s worth surfacing:

I’m a wheelchair user and that last photo reminds me of a bathroom in the airport in Halifax, Canada. It was great accessibility wise. That is until I tried to wash my hands. The soap dispenser was stuck to the mirror halfway between the counter top and ceiling! There was also another “accessible” (and I use that term VERY loosly) bathroom at the airport in Toronto, Canada where the toilet papoer roll was so low you had to practically lean ahead and hold your body up with yoru hand against the floor to rech it with your other hand!