Human Factor Errors1.The Waterpik a.My Waterpik, a cumbersome and clunky body of plastic makes “water flossing” more difficult than it should be. The premise is simple; once one presses a button, and water emerges to the teeth. My machine, however, tricks my subconscious mind and causes frustration. The machine has too many buttons. Analogous in size, shape, and color, it is hard to distinguish which button does what. Consequently, it is difficult to know what button turns on the machine. The pill shaped button and knob looks like it should operate the machine, but does not. Rather, the horizontal button towards the lower of the WaterPik, initiates it. This button, however, does not look like it will turn on the machine as it is too similar to its counterparts. As the power button, this switch should be far more accessible and profound. Aside from a monotonous build, the button also utilizes a vertical line to symbolize powering on the pik. This symbol quite franckly, is not associated with power in my subconscious mind, so I am always unsure of which side of the switch will put on the machine. This only adds to my confusion. With aplethora of indistinguishable buttons that do not promote their function well, the WaterPik is more complex than it should be.
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i.To improve Waterpik accessibility and efficiency, I would differentiate each button and clarify its symbolism. For example, the button to turn on the machine’s engine could be red and shaped like a switch, allowing my mind to associate the button with power. Secondly, I would change the on and off icons to something more identifiable, such as a lightning bolt and flat line, the lightning bolt associated with power and the flat line analogous to completeness. As for the other buttons, I would work to minimize and specialize them accordingly, allowing the most profound button (the power button) to take center stage. b.As of late, I purchased a mini disco ball for my bedroom. Equipped with two settings, the ball spins either in multicolor or white lights. When I first got the machine, however, it took me several days to get used to its two features. Its switch toggles from left to right. The left side of the switch has a vertical line symbol and, when flipped, initiates rainbow lights. The right switch operates white lights, and is indicated with an open circle. However, I found myself
repeatedly confused by the switch’s symbolism and functionality. The line and circle symbolism had no associations in my brain, and I found myself having to “search” for which setting I wanted. Yes, this seems petty, but switching between disco settings should not be so hard. I would rather the switch come equipped with useful imagery to help me differentiate between lighting.
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