Sunday, November 25, 2007

The problem with today's kitchen appliances

Appliance industry also has complexity problem ...

"Ergonomics is a foreign word to designers.

If the cockpit of a Boeing 747 were as badly designed as some kitchen appliances, most of us would never make it to Denver alive. Imagine a jet pilot having to fumble around for the landing gear lever because it looks just like all the other controls.

I've owned (or inherited) far too many domestic appliances with just such inane shortcomings and more, and it's gotten me to wondering: Don't the engineers and stylists who design these products at least try them out at home for the weekend? If they had, many of them would never have made it onto the market.

Since we already know a great deal about ergonomics -- the science concerning the design of objects for human use -- and are always finding out more, you'd presume that products would become easier and easier to use. Not so; in fact, with the bane of "feature creep" -- the compulsion of marketers to add more and more gratuitous gimmicks to their products -- many devices have actually gotten harder to use.

Remember the first-generation microwave oven, which had a big round dial for setting the time, and a huge rectangular button labeled "START"? As primitive as it was, it still beats the supposedly state-of-the-art microwave my mother recently had installed. I won't embarrass the manufacturer by naming the brand -- oh, alright then, it's Bosch -- since it richly deserves an award for its atrocious ergonomics. The control panel is a mind-numbing matrix of look-alike keypads, 36 in all, all of the same color and having the same kind of lettering. The most frequently used functions, such as the number pads and the START and STOP keys, are haphazardly buried in this grid without being distinguished by color, shape, position, labeling or anything else. Lacking any kind of visual cues for guidance, the hapless user is condemned to sift through the whole dreadful phalanx of pads again and again, essentially having to relearn the controls with every single use.

While this Bosch product might be accorded special wonder for its supremely lame design, it's certainly not alone in being hard to use. A Krups coffee maker I finally had the pleasure of throwing out (it broke, to my relief) was another such example of witless engineering. Its filter basket came out along with the carafe rather than remaining in the unit, ensuring a trail of coffee drips every time you removed it for pouring. It also featured a slippery, jellybean-like power switch mounted on a trendily curved front surface, an arrangement so slithery it required both hands to operate."    (Continued via Morgage 101)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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3 Comments:

Anonymous ApplianceGuy said...

Your right, appliances today aren't made like they used to, in design and in quality. Makes you long for the good ol days when they were simple to use and lasted forever.

Its just that for the manufactures there is not a lot of money to be made from simple and easy. they are a dime a dozen from no name brand china made products. hi tech inst so bad, as long as it is designed with the user in mind and not too complicated to figure out. Many of the newer appliances are very good

Good post
appliancepulse.com

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Home Appliance Insurance said...

Ergonomics is a term which is used for designers, here you discuss that in the field of appliances it is very necessary to invent some new designs with some features.

11:24 PM  
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10:29 PM  

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