Accessibility fail

New signs appeared in our building for the restrooms last week. I was pleased that they were accessible and had Braille on them. Then I looked closer and ran my hand across the Braille. It wasn’t 3D. You could see it but couldn’t feel anything. A noble but horribly failed effort.


UX Issue of the Day

I’m at CHI all week (a 2500 person conference about Human-Computer Interaction). So many of my friends are at CHI and so many people are tweeting, that my method of coping (while still getting the good information) is to create a list of people I follow who are also at CHI. So gradually, throughout the course of the day, I’ve been adding people to my list. And I’ve been making the same mistake every single time. 

I use tweetdeck on my laptop, and this is the interface I see.


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Every time, I check the list I want to add the person to and then I click the button. The button that says create list. A list that I do not want to create. I really should be clicking the x. But clicking a save button is an instinct for me (except in Google Docs and a couple other unique cases). Maybe by tomorrow I’ll have it wired in my brain…

Usability Issue 5 (No Question)

My first day in Helsinki it took me over 45 minutes to get to my hostel. Not because it was far away, but because of extrodinarily bad signage. So this is less of a question and more of a usability what-not-to-do show and tell. (I had WAY too much stuff with me, poorly packed, and had been awake for about 36 hours. And it was hot. So hot that after eventually finding my hostel, I changed into a short skirt and tank top to go out to dinner. And I was finally comfortable.)

So this is the story of what not to do when creating signage for your youth hostel. Keep in mind that I did have a Google Map and it did not help one ounce. Or gram.


This is the sidewalk I was walking on. I had taken the bus they told me to get on and gotten off at the stop they told me to. The bus driver had given me vague directions and I had my map. So I was walking. The left side of the sidewalk (red) is the bike path. The gray part is for pedestrians.


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When I got to this point., I thought to myself, weird. There is a road going off into the soccer fields. I never once thought to myself, I bet that’s where the hostel is. Note, no signs. I should have turned right instead of going straight.


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If I had turned right I would have gone down the road or ended up in this quasi-parking lot at the top of a staircase. I should have gone down those stairs. (Still no signs.)


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Then after walking along the soccer fields, I would have come to a giant flight of stairs. I should have gone up that.


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At the top of the giant flight of stairs, I would have found my first sign that a hostel actually existed, a small sign that said Hostel Stadion <- 100 yds. At this point I was standing on a paved walk/bikeway next to a parking lot. But I would then have turned left and powered on (as the tiny sign said).

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Journeying on, there may have been one more small sign, as one would walk along this empty path. There would also, undoubtedly be bikers to dodge, with a huge pack on.

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Then, you make an unexpected right, down a man-made path in the grass, to another trail, across some rocks, and through a small break in the fence. It is very official. BUT there is an official Hosteling International Sign here, so it must be legit! Relief!

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As you turn right from the hole in the fence, you will see this. You may or may not be able to see the HOSTEL STADION sign. You are in the right place.

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If you come another way, good luck to you, fine sirs and madams. Hopefully you brought lots of rations and your bag is light. And hope they don’t give your bed away…

Usability Question 4

How do you open this hostel door? This is the door.


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This is the “key” which is the only hostel key I had to pay a deposit for.

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This system is so difficult that they have a demo door and key at the check-in desk so that they can demonstrate. Once it took me 2 minutes to open the door. I was a little ashamed.

Usability Question 3

This is a dryer. What does the 5 mean? Hint: It came on after the dryer had been running for an hour.


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Usability Question 2

What is the red button for? I never figured it out. It seemed to be popular in Finland, but not in Denmark, Sweden, or Germany. Sometimes the button was green, sometimes it was on the back of the faucet.

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Also, I do not know the answer, just by the way…

Usability Question

When boarding the Helsinki Tram, you may need to validate your day pass. Quick. How do you do it?


I’ll leave this open and then I’ll tell you. I will let you know that my first ride I never figured it out…