A lesson in User Experience from the faucet

On this page from the Mayo clinic about the dos and don’ts of hand washing, they recommend in a series of steps that one should:

  1. wet their hands with running water,
  2. apply soap,
  3. lather well and rub vigorously for say 20 seconds,
  4. rinse well, and
  5. dry your hands

It seems simple and elementary enough for anyone to understand and perform with ease. The job to be done in this context is simple, enhance hygiene through clean hands. The implementation is running water which is facilitated by a faucet.

Over time the faucet has evolved and in most establishments (at least where I’m from) they use the metering faucet. This is a faucet that was developed to control the amount of water flowing. Given the amount of concern that has developed over time for the environment and conservation in general this is a great faucet. I could potentially save on water wastage through controlled usage. I don’t really need to explain why this is important.

This however has created a new issue for those of us who wash our hands. Given the steps outlined above (hoping we agree on those steps) it would take some time to get our hands clean. I’m not implying that it would take minutes but given the number of steps outlined it probably won’t last all of 2 seconds.

Literally 2 seconds

There are standards to things in life. The heights of tables, doors, chairs, stairs among other things we interface with on a daily basis are based on certain values that can be universally agreed upon. There are exceptional cases of course, say for example with the spaces between seats on airplanes but they tend to be the exception as opposed to the rule.

Those in the plumbing profession should as a result try to do the same. The could for example figure out the volume of water that would be sufficient for one to wash their hands or even find a standard acceptable number of seconds that would be sufficient for one to clean their hands.

It may seem like a bit of a made up problem but one thing we have learnt from the creation of digital products with forms or from forms in general is that the longer a person has to do something or the more steps one has to take in a process the more likely they are to be frustrated consequently resulting in people falling off from the process all together. With metered faucets that only run for a short period of time requiring one to continuously re-run the tap a frustrating process arises and it may likely result in hands that have not been properly cleaned. If this is the result of using such faucets does it not question in general the whole purpose of hygiene that the faucet was supposed to facilitate to begin with initially.

Just thoughts at 5 P.M