Aaron Shekey, a designer and developer living in Minneapolis, recently remodeled his kitchen, which gave him the opportunity to take a look at the current state of design amid various home appliances:
In my frustration I discovered that all I wanted from a microwave was a single knob. That’s it. I want to open a carefully considered door, close it without waking the neighbors, twist a single knob to the desired time, press it to start, and hear a single chime when it’s done. Press again to cancel, or simply twist counter-clockwise to zero it out.
I agree with the crux of Shekey’s argument: that most household appliances have let feature creep go too far. However, I am not sure his solution of a single-knob microwave is the right answer. Perhaps answering “why did buttons become popular in the first place?” would be a better place to start.
Just from personal observation, I notice that older folks might find buttons easier to actuate, with greater accuracy, than twisting a knob. For them, buttons have a very important practical purpose. That being said, Shekey’s definitely on the right track, and I hope to see a follow-up post that further explores this area of design.
—Monday, 3 February 2014