Title: Telephone Keypad Design
Context: Why we dial the phone the way we do: user research.
Synopsis: Did you ever stop to think about why the dialing buttons on your phone are arranged the way they are? Wait! Don’t leave yet. I know this sounds really boring, but bear with me, it’s actually kind of interesting. One might think that the 3×4 traditional telephone keypad was just a product decision that some nameless telephony engineer made in the dark recesses of Bell Labs back in the day, but you’d be wrong. Very wrong. No, as telephone design transitioned from the legacy rotary design (from which much of our modern phone based nomenclature still derives) to the time and effort saving touchtone keypad the problem was treated in a very forward thinking way: as a question of user experience. Options were prototyped. Prototypes were tested. Tests were used to measure results. Results were used to make design decisions. So the next time you pick up your phone to “dial” a number, remember, if it wasn’t for some forward thinking folks at AT&T back in the 1960’s, your experience could be much, much worse. Still no cure for dropped calls however.
Best Bit: “This highlights the importance of prototyping and actual testing; people thought they knew what they wanted, and gave opinions, but at the end of the day it’s the hard performance data on which the product success is judged.”

via datagenetics.com