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Everyday Usability 12

The tap is a typical example for everyday usability. Maybe you wonder, what should be difficult about such a simple device. Or maybe once you stood in front of a tap yourself, figuring out how to get water out of it or you got sprayed with ice cold water. Designers tend to reinvent simple things to make them stylish and unusual, sometimes it backfires in bad usability.

An easily usable tap should indicate the following:

  1. whether the water flow starts manually or automatically (automatic taps are usually indicated by an icon with a hand and two lines marking the motion sensor)
  2. whether the water temperature can be adjusted (figure 2 and figure 3) or is fixed (figure 4)
  3. how to adjust the temperature (adjustment before the water flows through rotation of the button on top in figure 2 or while the water flows through movement of the handle in warm or cold direction in figure 3)
  4. in case it works manually, how to start the water flow (push in figure 2 or pull of the handle in figure 3 or rotating of the handle in figure 4)

During the visit in a friend’s flat I found an old tap type (figure below). There are two taps, one for cold and one for warm water.  Unfortunately they are only marked at the side with a little blue (cold) and red (warm) dot, viewing down allocation is not possible. Further the two taps have different opening directions. In conclusion it leads to confusion and a lot of tries to find the right temperature for shampooing (sh*** that was the cold water, oh no why did the warm water get less…).

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  1. Enrico T. Kerner
    October 14, 2012 at 20:21

    I agree. Especially on motorway toilets or in bars it’s often impossible to tell whether the tap is out of order or whether it is too difficult to operate. For the sake of my ego I usually assume the former. 🙂

  2. nova group
    October 15, 2012 at 23:49

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