By that I mean, is the scope of this site solely the way a user interacts with software on their screen (monitor, touch screen, smart phone, etc)? Or does it include the way a user interacts with... anything?

For example, would a question regarding the layout of buttons and LEDs on an embedded device be off topic? Or the controls on a DVD player? Or when to use actual depressable buttons vs those lighted, pressure sensitive parts of a device?

I don't necessarily expect a "user interface" SE to attract people designing physical devices, but if it did -- is that on-topic?

4 Answers 4


I think they're okay. The Design of Everyday Things is one of the most popular answers to the must-read book question.

Though most if not all of us are software people, we can learn from physical interfaces too.

  • 2
    I agree, since UI is not exclusive to software and UI is not necessarily GUI.
    – Ignacio
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 17:36

I love the question of a child-safe pill bottle. Design is design. Besides, I am a fan of openness, versus restriction in questions.

  • 1
    You hit the nail on the head here! Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 17:14

Considering how many software interfaces borrow from physical antecedents, and the rise of touch interaction with digital products, it would be remiss to ignore physical interfaces.


Absolutely yes. The Forum title is "User Experience", not just User Interaction or even HCI. Not that these are bad areas, but they need to have the wider perspective of how people interact with things - it is the experience of people engaging with stuff.

This is why the question on web addresses is, IMO, totally on topic. If we exclude aspects of the user experience - either in questions or in terms of how we do UX work - then we are failing to understand the context of the user experience.

  • I agree. However, when asking a question, the grey text says: "what's your usability and hci question?" Usability can be broad as well, but it is not the same thing as user experience.
    – giraff
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 9:40
  • But physical interfaces are within the realm of Usability. And yes, I think there should be some relevance to computer systems somewhere, but the devices in the question are all computer interaction - even if the computer systems are embedded. Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 9:56

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