Monday, May 21, 2007

Do you know how to use a urinal?

The usability of urinals was never really very high on my list of topics. In fact I never thought about it very much to begin with until I saw the attached sign.

A urinal is one of those devices that you learn to use at a very early age. It only contains two areas of concern – The input and the output.

If you have ever seen older urinals one of the first things you notice is that they go from floor to mid chest, this was done, I suppose, to make it perfectly clear as to the intended input and to minimize backsplash, making clean up easier.

The newer urinals are more compact and leave tile space below, like in our example. If the urinal was not as ubiquitous one might challenge this design change as folly, inviting input other than desired. But since the utilization of urinal technology would have begun at an early age, this error should not be commonplace (unless the participant happens to be very drunk).

This situation has similarities to young people today pick up using the computer, while these skills may prove difficult to the older generation.

Computer use has become part of the culture and as such, the young are exposed to computers as part of fun and education at a very early age. It is not treated as a new and separate entity. This fact alone will lead to new and interesting computer interaction in the future. As base of knowledge with each subsequent generation becomes greater and greater it will finally become matter of fact knowledge, not a skill to be learned.

But I digress to the reason for writing on this topic.

What would make someone post such a sign to indicate the proper use?

One possibility is to stress the importance of flushing after each use. Another possibility may be that the users of this bathroom may be used to the newer, automatic flushing toilets. But if this were the case, how many times would a user need to utilize the bathroom before realizing that there was no flush sound accompanying by the completion of the act?

The simple sign shows just how much information you can convey with a single word and proper placement. “FLUSH” doesn’t just indicate the action, but says, “Hey, we live here to, so clean up after yourself, we’ll be watching”. Unless of course the author of the sign just figured it out himself, and wanted to let others know how it worked.


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