Status: The lightswitch

Norman wrote about the problems that arise by putting the three-dimensional world we live in onto the two-dimensional world of a wall, complicating something as simple as turning the lights on or off. The current office building I work has found a way to make it into a study. Every light (or group of lights) has a light switch like in the picture.20130204-091520.jpg

Apart from being aesthetically unpleasing, the light switch comes with an issue. One of those two buttons turns the light on, the other one turns the light off. Wich one it is, is different every time, so every time I enter an office room I have to figure out which button to press. Together with the fact that it takes several seconds after pressing the buttons until the lights respond, makes me push each button several times until the lights are on and stay on.

When I pointed this out to a co-worker, he told me there is a mnemonic for it, the one you pass first when entering is the one to turn the lights on, the one you pass first when exiting is the one to turn the lights off. I think that requiring mnemonics like this for something as simple as the lights is a very bad idea. The office maintenance team surely had a good reason to put the lights like this, but I doubt that the benefits surpass the costs.


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