An unlikely UI lesson

January 9, 2009 · 2 comments

The UPS man delivered a package from Amazon (the Belkin Rockstar, mentioned here). He handed me the electronic tablet/scanner for me to sign, but when I grabbed it, the signature screen was no longer visible.

“Sorry, I don’t see the signature line.”

“Yeah, that happens all the time. The most comfortable way for a right-hander to sign means they grab on the left and hit this button by mistake.”

He handed it back to me and I was careful to keep my thumb out of the way.

I wonder if UPS, when speaking to the tablet designer about the next revision, will solicit comments from the route drivers. They seem to have an innate knowledge of interface efficiencies, from the optimal load-in of a day’s packages to the placement of buttons on their most important tool.

And if Amazon learned the same lesson about the Kindle, maybe the next version won’t place the page button below the natural resting position for the left thumb.


Merryl March 10, 2009 at 1:42 pm

I would hope that UPS is smart enough to give drivers a way to report problems like that. If they’re really into finding all process improvements, then I would think that they do. Giving each employee a way to make their job better is really the best way to do this stuff

Have you taken a look at the new Kindle? The button problem is definitely one of the things they addressed specifically. Sadly, I don’t think they addressed that whole problem where the screen goes black for every page turn, which I hate.

David March 10, 2009 at 4:05 pm

If any company accepted employee input, it would be UPS. Nobody gets to management positions there without having driven a delivery route for a while.

We have a new Kindle, it’s a tremendous improvement over the old one. I still find myself wanting to click the page buttons on the outside edge, but that’s where the button hinge is. You have to click the inside edge – very counterintuitive.

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