Clarence Square Park and user interface design

4 12 2012

I work for a living as a technical writer, so I spend a lot of my time thinking about how information should be presented so that people can understand it. This sometimes extends beyond my work. For example, when I give somebody a large chunk of change, how I organize it depends on the denomination:

  • Loonies, dimes, and nickels should be organized in groups of five, as people tend to chunk in fives.
  • Quarters, though, should be in groups of four, as people tend to count in dollars.
  • Pennies should be in groups of ten, as people aren’t patient enough to count groups of five pennies.
  • If I have loonies and twonies together, I tend to organize them in groups that add up to 5 dollars each – again, because people tend to count in fives.

The above proves that (a) I am interested in user interface issues and (b) I am a giant nerd.

I was thinking of this sort of thing when I noticed the new path that runs through the middle of the rebuilt Clarence Square Park in downtown Toronto:

As you can see, one side of the path is designated for cyclists, and the other side is designated for pedestrians. However, what struck me is that both sides of the path look identical. The natural tendency is to treat the path as a two-way street, with pedestrians walking one way on one side and the other way on the other – and that seems to be what is happening.

If the city was serious about dividing the path into cyclist-only and pedestrian-only sections, they should have made each side of the path a different colour. This would make people realize that the path is structured in a different way.

I suppose that the problem could be solved by painting more bicycle stencils on the left-hand path.




One response

4 12 2012

WOW yeah that would really bother me too haha

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