Hearing voices


While watching Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica on DVD (it’s been a few years since I first saw it), I came across a positively idiotic menu design. You see, there’s a menu where you can turn on the audio commentary. That part works fine. But once you turn it on, you can’t turn it off. Trust me, I tried: I selected the menu option for the commentary again, I pressed the stop button on the remote, and I even ejected the DVD. No matter what I did, the audio commentary kept playing.

Eventually, I figured out a solution: use the remote control to cycle through the audio tracks until the regular audio comes back. Not exactly an intuitive method, but it got the job done. Looking back at the original design, the DVD authoring people basically provided an On button, but no Off button. Though it seems so obvious, the designers apparently never considered that someone might actually want to turn off the audio commentary.

We can generalize this into a useful rule of thumb. Simply take a look at each of the options that you let your customers turn on, and make sure you give them a way to turn those same options off as well.