Design & Usability

Good design is a tough thing to pin down. Most consumer products seem to miss it, but if you know what to look for you can find a well-designed version of whatever you’re looking for.

I hope to make a collection of good designs of household appliances. Raise the awareness of the average consumer, helping him have a higher quality of living by eliminating all the little annoyances that he puts up with every day.

Faucet Example

Let’s take as an example the bathroom faucet. Most people have a faucet with a tap for hot water, and one for cold. If you’re less lucky, you have two spigots, making it impossible to do anything with running water. But, back to the dual-tap model. It’s what everyone has. Two taps, one for each pipe. But think of what you actually want to control. Do you want to control the amount of hot water and the amount of cold water? Of course not. You want to control the temperature and pressure.

So, we step up to the next level. You’ve seen these, too. The faucets with a single knob, twist for temperature, pull for pressure. Now we’re into the functional faucets. From this point on you’re doing alright. But we can still improve. For one thing, make sure the axes are independent. Many faucets with a ball joint pull to a higher pressure as you move the temperature from the center. A well-designed faucet keeps the pressure and temperature separate.

Now, on to the finer points. You often use the faucet when your hands are dirty or occupied. It should be easy to operate with your elbow. A lever is a good design for this. You can tap it left-right and up-down. To make it even better, design it so you can hook it, and add gearing so it requires less force to change the pressure. To help get rid of the mushy feeling at the limits, make sure there are hard stops about half way around.