People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Everyday Usability: Tray Tables

I don’t take the Amtrak trains often (they’re pretty expensive compared to buses), but recently I took the train and I found their instructions for using the tray table to be confusing.

tray table

At first glance, it looks like there are 4 steps in order to use the tray table. After a closer look, it turns out there are just 2 steps to use the tray table and 2 steps to stow away the tray table.

Why would you label the 2 steps to stow the tray table as #3 and #4? It’s not like you would fold the table down and then immediately stow it away as the next step (unless you’re extremely bored on your train ride or the train is stuck for a while due to a signal/track issue – the train problem did happen on my recent trip to DC). So in most instances, you would use the tray table (2 steps – one process) and when you’re done using the table, you would stow it away (2 steps – another process).

I didn’t have any problems using the tray table. Once you lift the table out and fold it down, that was pretty much it, but I just think they could do a better job with the instructions. Thoughts? You can tell me that I’m being nit-picky about this and/or that I probably just got really bored on my train ride and decided to blog about it. Either way, share your thoughts and comments below.

Check out more posts in the Everyday Usability series.

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