Friday, May 29, 2009

Designers waste my time

time wasting
Originally uploaded by daveterry.
I'm frequently amazed at modern designers who have total disregard for my time. They absolutely have no concern. I can tell by the manuals that come with the incomprehensible devices they create.

These modern electronic devices have shrunk in size while the manuals for the tiny things have the heft of a New York City phone book. Worse, they expect me to read them.

Camera phones

I tried to turn off my Blackberry's camera sound, which is absolutely annoying. I don't understand why the designers of these digital devices insist they need to make the noises their mechanical grandfathers made. It's absolutely ridiculous. I spent 30 minutes searching through the menus and then another 30 minutes in Google.

However, I should't have bothered trying to discover how to shut the sound off as . . . there is no way to do it!

Are you kidding me? What if I mute the phone? No? Not!

So what designer thought of this clever feature? Who designs this stuff? Kids? What a total waste of time.

A chair

I went to OfficeMax to buy a chair. I sat in several leather chairs checking for comfort, tilt, and swivel. I found the best in the bunch. It was on sale. It had a piston mechanism that allowed for height adjustment. The only thing it didn't have was tilt. All the other chairs had it. I couldn't imagine this one didn't.

I tried the knob under the chair but that didn't do it. I tried forcing myself back in the chair, thinking that if I just pushed hard enough it would disengage the stiff back and let me rock backward, but it didn't. I was frustrated and started to leave. I didn't care how much of a discount there was, if it didn't tilt back I wasn't interested.

But then I thought about my thin wallet of little cash. I needed a chair for the office. I needed this chair. So I flopped back into its buttery soft leather pillow seat and inhaled the wonderful fragrance of the chocolate colored tanning finish. I've got to get this wonderful piece of furniture.

My hand dangled downward in complete surrender and hit the lever I'd been playing with and suddenly the chair rocked backward.

What did I do? How did that happen? I sat forward, leaned over and jiggled the lever again to see if it was just an accident. Suddenly the chair back stiffened again.

What on earth? What's happening?

After 30 minutes I discovered what I was missing. I had to pull the lever outward to release the back. pull the lever outward. I get it. Clever design that.

Who would have ever figured that out? I only did by accident.

This is what drives me crazy. A simple embossed arrow on the plastic handle could have given me a clue.

But the designers either didn't think of it or were too busy to bother. I can hear them in the R & D lab:

"How can we make the seat rock backward without adding another lever and mechanism?"

"Let's just make this up/down lever double as the back release."

"Hey, what a great idea. Think of the money we'll save. Less hardware, more markup."

"How do we give the user a clue as to how this will work."

"Ah, let them figure it out."

Designers waste my time.

The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who don't have it. - George Bernard Shaw