The Angle Issue: Direction Confusion

Good: Redundant Cues

Example: Faucet Handles


Redundant cues are useful to reinforce the purpose of a product in more than one way in order to satisfy the awareness of different target customers. In the faucet above, the hot and cold handles are distinguished by their pointing direction, color, and label. Their pointing direction (left for hot and right for cold) coincides with user familiarity of this object throughout other iterations of design. The use of red to indicate hot and blue to indicate cold provides a clear visual cue. However, for people who cannot read such visual cues (for example, color blind users) it is helpful to have a redundant cue such as the engraved label on each handle, “hot” and “cold” respectively. With these three cues acting in a complimentary fashion, the design of this faucet is readily straight forward.



Bad: Consistency and Standards

Example: Drawers

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Consistency and standards is the notion that a design is consistent with industry standards for that product regardless of its discursive space. In this example of desk drawers, the design fails consistency and standards within it’s own set of three drawers. First off, the minimalistic, flushed design is confusing for users who are accustomed to pulling at drawers with handles or knobs. Aside from this stylistic choice, the method of understanding how to pull out the drawers is inconsistent among the three drawers. The top two drawers have a flat top and an angled bottom (angling down). A user is supposed to wrap their fingers underneath the drawer and pull it out using the angled bottom. However, the bottom drawer is angled on the top (angling up) and flat on the bottom. Not only does this present an inconsistency from the two top drawers, but it also presents confusion when distinguishing how to access the middle or bottom drawers as their “accessible angle handle” lie on top of one another. Thus, not only is the method for pulling out the drawers counterintuitive to a user’s natural instinct, but the angled method is inconsistent within the set of three drawers themselves.

To propose a redesign, I would first suggest adding handles or knobs to the drawers. However, if the whole purpose of the simplistic design is to maintain this flushed frontier, than I suggest creating an indented strip on each drawer that has both an angled top and an angled bottom, thus catering to a wider variety of users depending on their intrinsic desire to pull from the top or pull from the bottom. In my sketch below, you can see this dual angled approach, which still maintains the flushed, handle-less design while providing more clarity and ease of use.

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About the author: maialeandra

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