2006.01.26

Joel talks about Great Design and, um, lack of Great Design… He brings up the Motorola RAZR and it’s on/off keys… Motorola RAZR keypad

Upon first looking at them, I figured the green key was a phone held vertically and the red key was a phone in the “hung up” position. Mind you, the icons look like the old time phones, not a modern mobile phone of today… (Well, sort of, if you stretch the imagination…)

Motorola RAZR keypad This brings up an issue I’ve always wondered about… In my car is a little icon for when the level of fuel gets too low. It looks like a gas pump that existed back around 1970 or so. You know, the kind with the single hose and handle that hangs on the side of the pump. I can’t remember the last time I saw one of those, except maybe in a museum.

It’s the same thing with the icon of an old time oil can, and numerous other examples. I still see systems that use an hourglass to represent having to wait for something. I doubt my kids have ever seen an hourglass, but the know that’s the symbol for “wait, this will take some time…” Do we need to worry about using icons of things that we no longer really use, or that don’t look familiar anymore? Is it just a matter of knowing what the icon currently represents and we should be ok with that? I dunno…

Back to issue of buttons doing things, when I used my Rio 500, I was happy it had a button for volume, and another one for on/off. With the iPod, I often try to turn if off, and it doesn’t seem to work. And the volume is accessible only if you are in the right mode, with that option available. I was happy when I got a Mac keyboard (like the old NeXT keyboard) with a volume control on it, because grabbing a mouse and trying to navigate to a tiny on-screen volume control can be a challenge you don’t need at 3 AM when something comes out of the speakers at full blast…

With the RAZR, I would have guessed as Joel did, that green turned it on, while red turned it off. I can pretend I’m superior with my Nokia, where it has a single button for on/off at the top, but to be honest, I almost never turn it off, because the boot up time is ridiculous. Sure, it’s more computer than phone, but still, I’d rather just change the profile from ‘Normal’ to ‘Silent’ than deal with turning it off and turning it back on. Oh, do you know the easy way to change the profile? Obviously you just push the off (or on) button quickly to change the profile, but don’t hold it down too long, or the phone will turn off, and you’ll be forced to wait for it to go through it’s long boot process to turn it back on.

Some days I feel like we have dozens of modern equivalents to the blinking 12:00 on the VCR‘s of yesteryear…

One Response to “Those Damn Buttons!”

  1. [...] because grabbing a mouse and trying to navigate to a tiny on-screen volume control can be a challenge you don’t need at 3 AM when something comes out of the speakers at full blast…

    Note to Pete: Mute speakers before you start to surf porn late at night. :-)

« | »


buy the button:

Buy The Button