You know what bugs me? Toilets.

Toilet flushes, specifically – and even more specifically, toilets where you have a choice of a big flush and a little flush. This choice is usually presented to you in the form of a big button and a little button; sometimes it’s an actual big/small button combo, sometimes it’s two semi-circular-ish buttons combined into one – anyway.

The thing is: I never know which one to press. One button does a small flush, for wee and spiders, and the other one does a big flush, for poo and larger animals (goldfish, say). BUT WHICH IS IT?

As a super-pro UX designer, I’ve designed many an interface where the user has a choice about what to do next. Often there’s a common action, or one we want people to take, and this button is made larger and more friendly than its less popular comrades.

Let’s be blunt: people wee a lot more than they poo. Therefore, in the interests of saving water, you’d expect that the common action in terms of flushing toilets would be the small flush, ergo that the small flush button should be the big (and therefore most pushable) one.

But the problem is is that toilet buttons are generally unlabelled – and without anything overtly declaring the function of each button it’s natural to assume that button size = flush size, in which case the button you probably want is the smaller one.

As a toilet-user I want to use the correct flush to save water, but without knowing what the buttons actually do I’ve only got a 50% chance of getting it right. What’s the system? Is it button size = priority or button size = flush size?

I think the lesson here is that just because you have a system for your UI – colour-coding, icons, anything else that your UX and Design team know like the back of their hands because it’s, you know, OBVIOUS – that doesn’t mean that other people understand it.

A nice friendly “big flush” and “little flush” on your toilet digital thing will go a long way towards helping people understand what’s what. It’s very easy to be too subtle when it comes to designing UI, especially with all this minimalism malarkey what is in fashion these days. Your audience are not going to spend any time thinking about what a mysterious button means; they’ll either press it without understanding it or just close the toilet site and go somewhere else.

Something something unblocking your sales pipeline, something something round the bend! Does anyone else think about toilets this much, or is it just me?