I spend a good amount of time working in Excel, analyzing data and such. I often accidentally hit the “F1” key in a clumsy attempt to hit “Esc”. The keys are right next to each other and each key is “half height” on my laptop keyboard, meaning they are close together (see the picture to the left).
Every time I hit F1, my brand new laptop, with Windows 2000, goes into fits and convulsions trying to load the Microsoft Office help window.
My computer is practically useless for 3 to 5 minutes while help loads. For one, this seems unacceptable for something like a “help” application, to be so slow.
I know I’m just complaining about something in my weekly work, but we can use it to think about lean. Secondly, it sure would have been a thoughtful error proofing on Microsoft’s part to assign “Help” to a key that’s harder to hit by accident, such as F9. I know the history of function keys, before we had a mouse on every PC, but still, I think it’s time to rethink those function keys, especially from a user perspective.
Think about this when designing industrial machinery or having something built. Is the user interface and/or buttons “error proofed”? Make sure buttons that are critical like “Emergency Stop” are easy to find and that you can’t accidentally hit a different button (or accidentally hit E-Stop when it’s not needed).
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