We argue that button-controlled devices can be made better to improve their usability, and that there are routine ways to do so that can be effectively employed in the early stages of the design process.
By way of example, we examine the design of a 1993/4 domestic phone/fax/answerphone machine, and show that alternative designs have quantitative advantages over the original. We point to many strange — obscure, undocumented, non-functional — features, and raise questions about the process that led to the design, and what role either human factors or computer science played in it.
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