Thursday, 1 November 2012

If we can't even design taps...

Today, I got a wet arm: the tap control was immediately behind the faucet, so I reached through the line of fire to turn it on, and the inevitable happened. But it looks Well Designed:

I thought I had already encountered every possible type of poor design: the tap that is unpredictable because there is only one control to govern both temperature and flow rate:
The tap that needs the explicit notice to tell the user how to make it work:
The taps where it's almost impossible to tell whether the water will flow from the shower head or the main tap:
The tap that looks as if you should turn it, when actually that controls the temperature, not the flow; for that, you have to pull the control towards you:

Yvonne Rogers told me of a tap that would only work if you were not wearing black....

The user of a tap wants to control two parameters: the temperature and the flow rate. There are plenty of designs around that enable people to do this without any faff at all. But these are apparently not interesting or exciting or aesthetically pleasing enough. So innocent users get frozen, scalded, bemused or unexpectedly wet as tap designers devise ever more innovative taps. If we can't even get tap design right, what hope for more complex interactive technologies, I ask myself...


  1. I seem to wave my hands around in public loos a lot more than I used to with all these motion-activated devices - to flush the loo, start the tap water flowing and then to activate the hand dryer ;)

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