Doorbell Instructions | 12:14 pm | 8 November 2006

When the mere presence of the bell is not enough.

Looking through all of these, I had a nasty flashback to usability testing. It’s easy to imagine the four-hour, five+ people meeting that would ensue–mostly entirely a discussion of why the labels should read “push button” instead of “ring bell,” since really, there is no bell present and the user is not directly ringing anything. At the two-hour mark, the group would seem to be in agreement that the labels should read “push button to ring bell” because “push button” would be too ambiguous to the user as to the results of such pushing, and would therefore cause the user discomfort, possibly resulting in the user never pushing the button because they were afraid of what might happen. After four hours, everyone would be in agreement–until, inevitably, someone points out that the bell is neither now nor ever visible to the user, so that “push button to ring bell” would be equally distressing to the user because they would never know exactly what bell they were ringing if they pushed the button. At that point, the web designer rips the bubbler off of the wall, heaves it through the window, and runs. [Scene.]

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