Kitchen appliances and good software design

Posted By on 2 October 2020

Here at HosPortal we are well into the final stages of our completely rebuilt medical rostering software. It will still be familiar to existing user, but will also have powerful new features. When we have selected and designed these features we have been very conscious of usability and incorporating features that our users will value.

It is rare we try to draw a parallel between medical rostering and domestic appliances. But sacrificing functionality for the sake of sleek design is one of our pet peeves…it should be possible to meet the core functional needs of your software without sacrificing usability. And a recent experience with kitchen appliances indicates that positive brand image is not always linked to practical functionality.

Recently one of HosPortal’s principals – the one who loves cooking – bought a house with a kitchen and laundry filled with a certain brand of appliances. For the purpose of this blogpost let’s pretend it’s an Irish brand called Meleigh, renowned for its stylish and sleek design, and widely referred to in home advertisements to encourage higher prices from aspirational homebuyers. Which possibly proves that real estate copywriters don’t cook or clean.

Some things that we have discovered in using the appliances:

  • it is possible to turn off the oven by rubbing against a touch-sensitive button placed ‘conveniently’ at thigh height.
  • the touch-sensitive stove-top buttons don’t work if you have damp hands.
  • if you remove a saucepan for long enough to flip an omelette, the induction ring turns off.
  • the perfect simmer temperature for almost any saucepan is between the ‘6’ setting and the ‘7’ setting.
  • if you leave a saucepan other than squarely over a single induction ring, even if the induction ring is off, you get an error that causes the whole stovetop to turn off.
  • the lint alarm in the clothes dryer – a questionable feature to begin with – goes off half-way through any drying cycle that happens to involve a towel
  • you need to have the instruction manual to hand when you are doing any domestic chore to be able decipher any one of the 20 error codes that flash up when something stops working….with the usual starting assumption that it must be the user’s fault.

All indicative of deliberate and accidental design decisions we want to avoid!

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