Great Moments in Interface Design

Thousands held improperly in crowded jail booking room through scroll bar error:

Thousands of men and women were improperly detained for more than 30 hours each in a crowded county jail booking room because a sheriff’s deputy never moved his computer scroll bar, court records show.

“I think if — if I may impose on court and counsel’s experience, sometimes when the information presented is wider than the screen, there’s a little slide bar at the bottom of the computer,” Assistant Corporation Counsel John Schapekahm told Circuit Judge Clare Fiorenza. “He never push the slide bar apparently.”

. . . .

Information about how long inmates were held in booking was available via computer, Schapekahm said. But that particular piece of information was in the eighth column of a table, and only seven columns showed on the computer that a deputy used to track inmates.

Interface design can impair a person’s ability to do the job with which the computer software is supposed to assist the person. Too often we in the computer industry think of the person on the other side of the interface as computer user, which implies a familiarity with computers and a time and attention allotment that isn’t always there. Although they use the software, it’s often only a small part of an otherwise busy, complicated, and multi-tasked job.

(Link seen on Boots and Sabers.)

2 thoughts on “Great Moments in Interface Design

  1. Have to agree.

    One of the things I learned from having blogchildren is that, while not technophobic, some people have less geek skills than I assumed were common.

  2. Gee, I learned “NO HORIZONTAL SCROLL” in 1996. Pretty scary. If the scroll bar was at the BOTTOM of the screen, that’s likely what the problem was.


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