User Experience – Tell me the desired result

It’s weekend again and it’s gym exercise time again (the real reason is I cannot get a ticket to the Hong Kong Rubgy Sevens this year … damn). This club house gym around my home is a pretty good one, and there are about 30 exercise machines like treadmills, gym systems, weights, benches, bikes, rowers etc. etc..

One thing puzzles me all along is there is a set of machines (with brand X) attracts a lot of people, and there is another set of machines (with brand Y) always get idled. And indeed, I exercise with the brand X machines only.

As far as I can tell, both brands offer similar exercise machines and all of them are good … probably except one thing – their instruction notices. Following you can find the notices of Brand Y first, and then Brand X.

Which one you will spend time on ? And I think the answer is quite obvious.

Brand Y instruction notice

Brand X instruction notice

Lessons Learnt : If you want me to try your product, please tell me the desired result first.

User Experience : Keypad

I am puzzled with one question for years … have you ever wondered “Why calculator and phone number layouts differ ?”. Check your desk calculator and desktop / mobile phone to find out; or here are two pictures:

As you can see, the calculator keypads start from 7, 8 and 9, line up from upper left corner. The phone number keypads, however, start from 1, 2 and 3, also line up from upper left corner. So the question – why the difference ?

I searched, searched and searched again … finally found the plausible answer to that.

Decades ago in last century, the first calculators were actually resembled old cash registers. Those cash registers had columns of keys numbering 9 on top down to 0 on the bottom. The next column had another set of keys with 90 on top and 10 on the bottom, the next row to the right had 900 on top, 100 on the bottom, and so on. As you can see from the pictures of an old cash register below.


Therefore, it is logical to design a hand-held calculators with the number 9 on the top row, and 0 in the bottom row. Well then, the next question – “why did we place 7-8-9 in the top row, instead of 9-8-7 ?” Sorry, I don’t have the answer, so please leave your comments if you know.

For the phone … there are two theories. One is about the rotary phones – before the touch-tone phone, of course, rotary dials were the rule. This theory states that the touch-tone key pad was designed to mimic the rotary dial with the “1” on top and the 7-8-9 on the bottom; as in the following picture.

Another theory is that the design is from Human Factors Engineering Studies in Bell Laboratories. See below for the layout designs in the study. And turned out the one with 1-2-3 on top role was the selected design.

To me both are good answers, don’t you think ?

User Experience – Fare Conversion Table

After months’ of discussion, finally the flag-fall fare of all taxis in town raised by $1 yesterday. Since there is only a rise in flag-fall fare but not the fare per kilo-meter, the new taxi fare is therefore quite easy to calculate – just add $1 to the meter reading.

And since there is not enough time to re-calibrate all the meters of all taxis, so the local government’s transport department issued a taxi fare conversion table to display in each taxi for passenger reference (see below).

Taxi fare table

Yesterday in one taxi trip I had a chance to read this conversion table – it read something like this:

$ 15.00 -> $ 16.00
$ 16.40 -> $ 17.40
$ 17.80 -> $ 18.80

Yes you read it right, it just add $1 to all the small numbers in the table above. I mean, to make this piece of paper a lot more useful, why not just print one simple but bold sentence ?

Add $1 to the meter reading, thank you !!

Now you can tell, how our government officials use their brain …