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Showing posts from May, 2012

I18N - Internationalisation Woes

Living in the UK gives you a fraction more exposure to the problems of internationalisation than living in the US does. This is probably because a UK centric company has fewer than 100 million potential customers, where as a US centric company has more than 300 million and on average these customers are richer, and the proximity of other countries with significantly different languages and cultures.

One of my big frustrations has always been the US date format. All other common date formats can easily be programmically manipulated without determining their local origin, but the US date throws a spanner in the works. It also sneaks its way into programming languages, such as the mktime function in PHP, tripping me up every so often.

The countries that use MM/DD/YYYY are Belize, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Philippines, and the USA.
Their populations add up to 435,582,899 people. [Belize (307,899), Canada (34,073,000), Federated States of Micronesia (111,000), Palau (2…

Heathrow Terminal 4 Usability Failure

Airports and Underground systems are often used in usability case studies. The clear and simple iconography an well thought out signs help countless people no matter their language. They help clarify how best to sign post and navigate large areas and can provide great material to study.

However, Heathrow Terminal 4 does have quite a usability failure on its hands in terms of the toilets. Above every single tap is a yellow warning exclamation mark with the text, caution extremely hot!

The message is correct the water is nearly too hot to use, and certainly too hot to use for much longer than a very short period of time without burning yourself.

This is a failure on so many levels, but I feel it is an illustration in how a simple related solution removes obstacles in usability.

If the water temperature was reduced a few degrees then there would be no issue with using the water and there would be no need for the signs. In addition there is likely to be a reduction in cost as heating the …