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Sketchy UX

"Sketchy UX" is a play on words. For this fun project, I sketched random things around me that made me think about UX - and the lack of it. Thinking about affordances of everyday objects (clues about how an object is supposed to be used) is my favorite daily exercise!


1. Tangle Teezer Hair Brush

The design of the brush makes it comfortable to hold as it simulates the curve of a hand. However, the brush is intended to be used in or after the shower, and that’s where the problem is. The brush is very glossy and slippery, and although it’s comfortable to hold in a normal situation, it’s hard to hold on to when your hands are wet (I drop it highly regularly). Adding a handle to the brush would ensure a good grip and solve this problem.

2. Apartment Complex Entrance door

The ‘push’ handle on the main door of my apartment complex is easy to understand how to use (the word “push” prompts the correct action), but is not easy to use. The reason is, the location of the handle is too low for a comfortable interaction, even for a short person like myself. You either need to bend your knees or your back in order to reach the handle. Every time I get to the door, I have to focus on the handle. Moving it up to the average person’s chest level would solve this issue.


3. A trash bin in downtown seattle

There are no usability problems with this trash bin – it explicitly says that it’s intended for trash only, and it has a handle to pull (as it’s the only way to open the container – pulling the handle downwards). However, I find that there is a problem with user experience: you have to touch it, which is unsanitary. This could be solved in two ways. One is redesigning the trash can door to make it touch-free (open hole or push-through, for example). Another way would be attaching a small sanitizing station to the trash bin, so that the users could wipe/sanitize their hands after touching the handle.

4. Spotify app in radio mode

This is probably my most used app because of its great user interface and experience. I use its radio function most often and never have a problem. First of all, the bottom of the screen tells you exactly what page you’re on (home, browse, search, radio, or library) as you see the appropriate icon lit green. Right above it, you see what’s currently playing – it has both, the name of the artist and the name of the song, which is very helpful information. At the top, you see your most recent stations and can scroll sideways to find the right one. But the best feature of this radio page is the “recommended stations” section. The selection that Spotify offers is usually spot-on for your music liking. Here again, you can scroll sideways to find something new. If nothing works, there is always the (+) icon in the top right corner to start a completely new station. The design of this page is very intuitive, which makes for great user experience.


5. microsoft surface pro 

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is a great combination of design elements. It has a wireless magnetic keyboard that you can detach if you decide to use the machine as a tablet. When you decide to use it as a laptop again, the keyboard is very easy to reattach – it clicks right back into place, so that you know the two pieces are securely connected. The Surface Pen that comes with the package is also magnetic (you can attach it to the side of the screen). This decreases the likelihood of losing the pen, which is pretty costly. The only element of Surface Pro that I don’t find universally useful is the stand located on the back of the screen. While it’s great that you can set it at a comfortable angle manually, ensuring good visibility in all positions, I think it’s intended for use on flat surfaces only. It’s useless in a bed/couch situation. When I’m typing in bed, I have to either hold the screen with one hand or use my knees to ensure it stays upright. Otherwise, it falls backwards, since the keyboard and the screen cannot hold a stable angle on their own.

6. usb flash drive

This little flash drive is very handy. It has a retractable USB connector that you open up by using the slider button on the front (the arrow points the right direction of your finger movement). It has a nice oval grip that you can use for some traction. The very first time I used this flash drive, I didn’t press the button down and was frustrated that the USB wouldn’t slide right out. Adding a simple word “press” on the button would help new users understand this design better and start using it with ease.


7. bus pull-cord system

The pull-cord system is used on a lot of public transportation vehicles, but not all of them include instructions on how it should be used.  The first time I ever had to request a stop on a bus with cords, I had no idea how to do it, as I had never imagined that a cord could be used as a way to signal a stop (in Russia, we use buttons). When somebody told me, I double-checked, “Should I pull?” Had I seen the instruction on how to request a stop (as on the sketch), it wouldn’t have become a problematic experience. Another inconvenience associated with the cord is that if you are not sitting by the window, you have to either ask your neighbor to pull it for you, or annoy them with your arm while trying to reach for it by yourself. A solution to this would be adding stop buttons on the seats or the seat handles (one per every two seats, in the middle, or one per every seat) for better user experience.

8. jet hand dryer

This jet hand dryer located in one of the bathrooms on the UW campus is very user-friendly. It doesn’t have any buttons whatsoever, so there is nothing to be confused about. The opening has enough space for both hands, and as soon as you insert them, it turns on the stream of air automatically, as it has a motion sensor inside. The dryer turns off as soon as you take out your hands. The best part of the experience is probably that you don’t have to touch anything or think about anything, as the smart device recognizes when you want to start drying your hands, and when you are done.


10. CHI hair dryer

This hair dryer’s interface is very user friendly, which allows for great user experience. It has just three buttons on the handle. The cold air button is located at the top. We know it’s for cold air because the button is marked with a snowflake. The left button/switch is to control the intensity of the blowing air. The smaller fan icon on the button indicates that it’s the lowest setting, while the bigger fan sign indicates that it’s for more intensive drying.  The right switch/button also has three settings – for warm, warmer, and hot air. The number of waves indicate the temperature – one for the coolest, three for the hottest. This hair dryer fulfills its function perfectly – it doesn’t have too many settings, which often become too time-consuming to figure out with other hair tools, and it does simply what it’s supposed to do – dry hair.

9. electric kettle

This kettle is very easy to use. You start by filling it up with water. The kettle has a great clear indicator of volume, so when you are filling it up, you know exactly what liter mark your water line is hitting (which also prevents you from overfilling the kettle or turning it on when there’s no water left). After you fill it up, you just turn the switch down to turn it on (as you see the “1” icon – the universally recognized power symbol). The light inside the switch then turns orange, which gives you a cue that it’s working. When the kettle is done boiling water, it turns off automatically.