What’s Your Favorite Interface?

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Seems like a simple question to some people but others may not know what an interface is. Easy examples include the screen of your cell phone, your TV remote, or your car’s dashboard. There are lots of other interfaces we use all the time, and there are interfaces that people simply hate using (a company’s telephone menu tree, for example), and there are lots that we are OK with.

So what’s one of your favorite interfaces?

I have several favorites, but as an example I’m going to say the flip-phone menu and screen. A big reason is because it’s easy to use with a few buttons and the configuration of the keypad are mostly universal now. And there are times where this is very helpful. Case in point:

Last week, I was riding my bike home from the QFC grocery store and I pulled onto the sidewalk to my building. I saw a man lying face down in the grass between the sidewalk and curb, and I thought he was too drunk or high to walk. Then I thought maybe he was injured and I pulled over. He wasn’t able to move or talk very well. Another guy on a bike also pulled over and he promptly called 911.

The downed man was somewhat conscious and he was irritable bordering on violent. He was in intense pain but couldn’t tell us why or where. He yelled that he was not drunk or high when I asked him. There seemed to be really something wrong with him. I’m glad we called 911.

I asked the man if he had a phone so we could get in touch with someone to talk to about his condition. With a grimace he reached into his pocket and pulled out a flip-phone. He was able to find a name from the menu and gave me the phone. I noted the name and pushed call. There was no answer so I left a generic voicemail. A minute later the paramedics came and started treating him. A question they asked him was if there was anyone they could contact. I gave one of the paramedics the phone and the name was the one he went to in the menu.

The downed man had a hospital wrist band on with an admit date of that same day. He could have had any number of complications stemming from that which caused him to go down.

But the access to his wife through the phone’s easy access helped put some pieces together about his condition.

I’m glad I stopped because who knows what would have happened to the man. And I realized then of the benefit of his phone’s easy interface and how it helped us in that situation.

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