Sitting at home while the dishwasher does ten, slow, loud, beeps to say that it’s finished, and remembered how Don Norman is frustrated by the same feedback ‘feature’.
Too much feedback can be as annoying as too little. My dishwasher likes to beep at three a.m. to tell me that the wash is done, defeating my goal of having it work in the middle of the night so as not to disturb anyone (and to use less electricity). From The Design of Everyday Things
I wonder who actually appreciates those beeps? Who waits for them, thinking “come one, come on, are you finished yet or not, tell me with your helpful beeps?”. I wonder who doesn’t try to open their microwave door at exactly 00:01 in order to prevent the annoying beep(s) that it makes?. I wonder who hasn’t had loud audio start playing on their iPhone and found it annoying that you can’t instantly turn the volume off, just, down down down down down down (OK, that’s less feedback and more just annoying noise).
I heard one of the founders of Airbnb reference how he learned to recognising the use of duct tape as a signpost for a design opportunity. A symbol of something that’s not working properly and that could be improved. I wonder if Sugru will be the same symbol for a new generation?
Seeing these little clues, these annoying, or broken, or simply improvable things as opportunities is an odd skill, and easy to confuse with being negative or a moaner, but as those beeps went off tonight, I think I felt more of a kick than a niggle. That ability to see those issues and wrinkles and possess a desire to fix them is nice. I think that’s the essence of design for me. Wanting to improve and get things right.
Again I feel Personal Parables #4 tickling in my mind. A desire to get it right. If something doesn’t matter to other people, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter.