I was at my parent’s house in the north of England for a few days earlier this week. They have a new oven in their kitchen. It’s nice – quality stainless steel from a very reputable European brand. German engineering. Satisfying ‘kerchunk’ when you close the door. It’s a multi-function oven – you know the type, all icons and dials. These types of interfaces – like TV remotes – suffer from what I like to call ‘reinventing the wheelitis’. Design teams under pressure to deliver something new to find competitive advantage in an industry with ever decreasing margins. They reinvent the most conventional of icons with this brief in mind, always to the detriment of the user. Often good hardware is undermined by poor software. But anyway, surprisingly, this oven didn’t seemed to suffer from this.
Making my breakfast one morning, I popped in the bowl and selected the microwave function no problem. Even managed to change the power settings without consulting a manual. An entirely conventional ‘bleep’ confirmed my selection before the oven did its thing. I’m of the age that, along with Sodastreams, microwave ovens always seem like magic.
Two minutes later I was rewarded with another little conventional ‘bleep’ informing me that the cooking was complete. And, on the little screen a confirmation message said: ‘Finsihed’.
The myriad of tiny design decisions that culminate to create a story of ‘brand’ in a product jokingly destroyed by a stupid typo. A really lazy ‘should’ve been picked up in QA’ typo. So this week, I’m focussed on the little things. The things that often get forgotten about. The things that, when they’re all added together, tell the story of a product more effectively than any marketing campaign. It’s where we should be spending our time.