Design of Household Things
I felt the need to talk about some of the horribly designed things in my home. I'll not only go over what's wrong with them, but also explain how I would design it better.
The first thing is the light switch. Not every light switch, but just the ones in the bedrooms. In each bedroom, there is a light switch that controls the fan speed, and turning on/off the light.
There are so many things wrong with this and it drives me crazy. The first is that each button is this soft, wiggly button that never gives a satisfying response when pressed. Half the time they're pressed, the indicator light flashes, yet nothing happens. A harder press is required to flash the indicator light and activate the button. I don't want to spend time at my light switch waiting for something to happen, then have to repress the button.
This is also an issue with my garage door opener. The buttons are exactly the same. Most of the time the button never registers, but the red indicator light flashes that it's been pressed. The whole point of this indicator light is to tell you when it's been pressed. It does no good when it doesn't function properly. Arguably, a mis-functioning indicator light is worse than no indicator light at all. Now it's leading you to believe that it's been pressed when in fact, it hasn't. It's especially frustrating when you're standing outside in the rain like a fool waiting to open/close the garage door and you have to press the key combination multiple multiple times. At least closing the garage door only requires you to press the enter key, so instead of pressing a series of 5 buttons multiple times, you only have to press one button a bunch of times.
A quick fix for this would to add real buttons to both these devices. However, there's still a few more issues I have with the light switch. Since all of these buttons only have one state, there's no indication of what the status of the corresponding function of the fixture is. Is my fan on medium or high? As you can see, there are four buttons for the fan (off, low, med, and high). Why can't there simply be a vertical slider? Slider in the lowest position would be off, and increasing fan speed until the top of the slider. The button for the light should simply be a switch— easy to press on and off and guaranteed to work. Doing both of these things also eliminates the need for the red indicator light and therefore, the stupid battery that's required. It's quite annoying when the battery going out. Now you have no way of turning off and on your light— regardless of the status of your lightbulb. I spent a few days in a dark room because I had to find time to go out and get a cell battery. Yes, battery for a light switch.
Another poorly designed thing in my home is the kitchen sink's faucet.
Notice the break at the end of the faucet. This is so that it can be extended and angled at dishes in the sink. It's a fairly common features on most kitchen faucets. The issue is that when using the sink normally (just turning on/off the water) causes the hose to fall out of place. The sudden pressure change when turning off the sink causes the hose to pop right out. The simple fix for this is to make the part of the hose that sits in the end of the faucet ever so slightly larger, so that it fits snugger and requires more force to remove it from it's place. That and/or have the hose that extends down the faucet pull back a bit more, just enough so that it doesn't pop out.
The last item is the refrigerator in my kitchen.
I use the filtered water feature of my refrigerator quite a bit. There a few issues I have with it and they all involve the location of it. It's located and angled in such a way that it's difficult to fill any sort of container. Water bottles have to be angled and pressed up against the drawers in order to be filled. It's also uncomfortable to have to press the button with your left hand and hold the container in your right. They don't give you much room. Not only that, but the left door also has a tendency to close when it's open— which is especially annoying when you're standing there filling up your water bottle and you have to keep the door open with your hip.
The necessary positioning for filling up a water bottle:
- Have feet placed at the base of the refrigerator and slightly angled towards the left side
- Turned hip angled outwards slightly to hold open the door (and give your left arm enough room)
- Have left arm placed against all sorts of items in the left shelf of your fridge
- Rotate left wrist to allow index finger to press in button (sometimes the addition of the thumb is required for large containers requiring lots of water and therefore a longer press
- Place right arm across chest and partially resting on shelves in fridge and holding water bottle at a 45° angle.
Try and relax while you wait for your container to be filled. You'll be there for a while because water trickles quite slowly out of this poorly designed refrigerator.
Also, be sure to read a paper written by two of my friends and I on the reinvention of the microwave.