Chapter Four Convenient

Convenient is one of those pesky adjectives. According to the dictionary, it can mean a couple of things:

1. Suited to one’s comfort or ease
2. Placed near at hand

So far so good. The problem arises when you factor in point-of-view; “convenience” is always in the eye of the beholder.

When it comes to usability, what is convenient for a designer, programmer, site owner, service provider, and so on is almost never the same as what is convenient for the user of the stuff in question. Let me give you an example.

A couple of years ago, I attended a meeting in someone’s office—a fairly large office as these things go. To get to this room, I passed along a long corridor with doors to other offices on either side. Upon entering any of these spaces, a visitor would find a whiteboard just to the left, on the same wall as the door. The window was on the opposite wall and desks were usually placed near the windows.

What made this tidy (and fairly uniform) arrangement odd was the positioning of the plastic channel containing the power, telephone, and computer cables. Rather than running along the baseboard under the window, next to the desk as would be expected, the channel ran across the tops of all of the door frames.

I was so amazed by this comically useless installation that I took a picture, which I share here. When I asked how such a silly thing could have occurred, I was told, “This was easiest for the electrician.” Convenient for him, perhaps, but idiotic ...

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