The UX of Sidewalks

By | April 18, 2007

I was walking back from Ethan’s school yesterday on the sidewalk.  Suddenly, I noticed the lines in the sidewalk.  Without even realizing it, I had been either avoiding or hitting the lines on the purpose with my foot.  In other words, I was predicting, subconsciously, whether or not my foot would hit a line and I was adjusting my stride slightly to make my prediction come true.  Sometimes, my foot would still hit the line even if I was trying to miss it.  This made me feel bad in a tiny unconscious way.

I thought about lines in general.  They definitely have high affordances of noticing, but equal affordances of “missing” versus “hitting” them.  A round filled in circle clearly has a higher affordance of hitting than missing.  Dog poop clearly has a higher affordance of missing.  Lines seem to straddle the middle.

I wondered if other people also subconsciously notice the lines on the sidewalk and adjust their gate to match.  My UX hat tells me, “Yes, they do.  When they are talking with other people they don’t notice the lines.”  I could be wrong though. 

User Experience.  Human Psychology.  I love it.

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