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The Tall vs Short sweet-spot, or a surprising UX find at a shopping centre

Yesterday evening, I met with my husband and a fellow designer friend at Dundrum Town Centre for a meal (Singapore Noodles, if you’re that curious) and a film (Captain America). At some point, conversation turned to my latest project – an interactive information touchscreen kiosk for another shopping centre, in a different part of town. Right now I’m working on the design, and my challenge lies with the size and orientation of the screen: respectively, Huge and Portrait.

Over dinner, we had a discussion about how different parts of the screen would be more accessible for tall vs short people. Afterwards, we had a stroll through the centre to kill time before the film, and stopped in front of one of the many non-interactive advertisement slideshow screens stationed around the ground floor. While slightly different in size and shape from my target screen in that other centre, they were similar enough to stop and see which area would be our “sweet spot” for interacting with this type of screen.

This is where all our UX -pectations went down the drain.

I pointed somewhere  just above eye level. Both my husband and friend pointed downwards towards waist level.

We all hit the SAME spot.

I’m a girl, and quite short for one. They’re both blokes and above average in height. I expected their “sweet spot” to be way above mine. So what happened?

My guess is, that as a short person, I’m more used to looking up all the time at all those improbably walking trees (yes, I’m talking to you, Treebeard!). Conversely, my Big Friendly Giants are used to looking down at Hobbits such as myself. And so – against all expectations – we all ended looking at and reaching towards the same area on the screen.

Now over to you. Is your User Experience with other-sized people and objects similar or completely different again? Let me know in the comments.

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