Intersections as “Dead Zones”?

2 minute read

I just coined a phrase, I think, for a place void of information for the user - A "Dead Zone"

How did it come about?

German Traffic Lights

In Berlin, and in Germany generally, when a user drives his or her car into an intersection to make a left turn, to turn right or to proceed straight ahead, at some point the user (driver) no longer has any status information of the state of the traffic light. How so? The traffic lights are now behind the car situated on the initial corners of the intersection. As such, if the user (driver) enters the intersection, he or she no longer is provided with any information about the state of the traffic light. Is it green still, or is it turning to yellow?

Yes, I know a little arrow is added on the far left corner to let the user know he or she can proceed to make a left turn because the oncoming traffic now has a red light, but it seems to me to be an afterthought, something cooked up to fix a known problem without reevaluating the entire procedure. But it does not entirely fix the problem. Before this arrow appears, the user enters a 'Dead Zone" that void of any user information - except some other user behind honking his or her horn to indicate, yes, you can go on.

Dead Zone Free

Note the traffic lights in the above image. Not sure where it is, but it does not have a "dead zone". Notice the traffic lights are placed on both the near and far sides of the intersecting roads. So, no matter where you are in the procedure here (turning left, right, or straight ahead), you will always know the state of the traffic light. This is providing information to the drivers at all times. At any point in the procedure, the user knows where he or she is in the procedure, knows what decision to make based on the information provided by the traffic light status, and never enters a dead zone where no information is provided to the user.

Product Documentation "Dead Zones"

It occurred to me that users enter the dead zone all the time when using a product - a state when the product offers no user information to know what to do next, what the product is doing, and the user has to wait for the "arrow" to appear to let them know what to do next, or what the product is currently doing.

Have you experienced any dead zones in using a product or service?

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