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2008-04-17 14:27:40.695479+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

I have an interface issue question: We have a hot water recirculator. We have buttons in various places to prime the hot water system. I've been trying to figure out how we label or mark them so that their function is obvious to visitors. The house shouldn't need an instruction manual, and this is probably the first of many enhancements and tweaks we'll be making like this, technologies to things that people aren't necessarily familiar with, so I'm trying to figure out how we can start building interfaces that don't need pages of explanation and all sorts of signage.

[ related topics: User Interface Real Estate ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-04-17 15:25:10.684389+00 by: ziffle

how about a motion detector in the bathroom? If the heater shuts off after 30 seconds its not much to lose for the convenience. Dont we want the house to take care of things for us? While you are at it - lights off after 10 minutes with no motion?

#Comment Re: made: 2008-04-17 15:37:34.337027+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think a motion detector in the bathroom is probably a good idea, though there are some heuristics that need to be worked out and some information that might be a little harder to garner (ie: Don't run this thing after a bath).

But the tougher question is: what about the switch in the kitchen?

At coffee this morning, Phil and I came up with another idea that I think we'll be prototyping shortly, however I think I'll be putting a lot of effort into getting stuff like this right.

However, I think the project for today is getting the rest of the baseboards for the living room milled and starting to finish them. My hands are still sore from Tuesday's efforts at reclaiming the mahogany from those box beams we got and we made inroads on milling the baseboards yesterday.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-04-17 15:46:08.515626+00 by: ebradway

ziffe's right. Either have the house do it automagically or submit to signage and manuals.

The hot water recirculator is not something most people are even aware exists, much less know what it does. And you seem to want to place the buttons that activate it in positions that do not necessarily relate to meaning of the button.

You will have to convey the function of these buttons to potential users through signs or instructions.

The friend who we basically house-sat for in Santa Barbara had an on-demand gas hot water heater - the kind without a pilot light that needed to "spin up" to light the pilot. She also had low water pressure - a bad combination... She gave us the 5-minute how-to but it took us several days to really figure out the system. The hardest part was that if one of us ran hot water in the kitchen while the other was taking a shower, the fluctuation in water pressure would actually cause the heater to turn off. Our friend never noticed this behavior because she lives alone!

A simple one-page house manual would be in order for guests. We have a similar manual for friends who cat-sit for us when we travel. Their feeding regimen is abnormal and involves raw meat, so we have a stock instruction sheet that we update and print out every time we leave. We do this even when our friends are familiar with the feeding regimen because it helps to instill confidence.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-04-18 01:19:41.214953+00 by: concept14

A friend I visit every year or two has an on-demand water heater. I've never learned how to use it, because it's more fun to call out to him to get in the shower with me to start the hot water. ;-)