April 29th, 2013


light up indicators

In the aviation industry, we have rules about when we can light something up in a cockpit and distract a pilot from his primary job of looking at whatever it takes the fly the airplane... usually the outside. Good old CFR 23.1322: warning, caution, and advisory lights. I like our rules. Flying is important, we want to keep it easy. The problem is the rest of the world is just total anarchy when it comes to light colors and it bugs the crap out of me, I see lights on kitchen appliances, electronic devices, the worst are car dashboards, where some engineer just thought to light up something in whatever color just for fun, and it's like fingernails on a chalkboard.

so just in case anyone reading this ever has a chance to design something, I wanted to spread the word about how warning lights SHOULD work. my industry did not just make this shit up so I'm not going to say "make it work like airplanes", I'm going to call it "make it work like common sense", cool?

1) In general, everything should be quiet and dim and not lit up at all unless it really deserves some attention.

2) Red lights are for things that definitely require immediate attention.

3) Yellow lights are for things that might require some attention, you can decide whether corrective action is required.

So that's pretty simple, only two reserved colors. But it makes me hate cars where, like, the entire panel including the odometer is lit up in red, because what if the oil light comes on, it's gotta be red, will I notice? I've also seen multiple models of cars where there's a stupid yellow light on ALL THE TIME that tells you something you totally don't need to care about... why do I care that my daytime running lights are on? What corrective action would I ever need to take based on this?

The world needs to think a little bit about human factors first, and then coolness second. That's all.