I have had a few of these in my thoughts as of late. They are things that we interact with, some many times a day, that are just plain silly. Most don’t really slow us down too much but, well, they annoy me.

The emergency brake in my Mom’s Chrysler Minivan (and many other vehicles from just about every auto maker)

Here is how it works. To engage the emergency brake, you simply push the lever toward the floor with your left foot. It, like the other pedals under the driver’s dash, has that rubber-like cover. Here is where the annoyance comes in. Unlike the other pedals, in order to disengage it, you use your hand! You pull a lever that is above where the brake pedal rests when it is in the disengaged position. I know, nothing serious. I just have to ask why? Why not allow the user to operate the lever with just one limb?

It isn’t asking too much of the user to do something crazy or anything, but it just feels better to simplify what can be safely simplified. This and the fact that the disengage lever is where the hood pop lever is on most cars is slightly annoying as well.

Credit for this, I’m sure, should be given to cost saving measures which certainly is important. This van was NOT the entry-level model though.

How can I learn from this? Consider watching a few users interact with whatever it is that you help create. Look for places that, even if for a moment, makes the user pause. Don’t be afraid to remove what is not necessary.