Bath and kitchen faucet design ought to be simple but

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Bath and kitchen faucet design ought to be simple, but can violate many design principles, including: Visible affordances and signifiers Discoverability Immediacy of feedback four: Knowing What to Do: Constraints, Discoverability, and Feedback 155 Finally, many violate the principle of desperation: If all else fails, standardize. Standardization is indeed the fundamental principle of desperation: when no other solution appears possible, simply design everything the same way, so people only have to learn once. If all makers of faucets could agree on a standard set of motions to control amount and temperature (how about up and down to control amount up meaning increase and left and right to control temperature, left meaning hot?), then we could all learn the standards once, and forever afterward use the knowledge for every new faucet we encountered. If you can t put the knowledge on the device (that is, knowledge in the world), then develop a cultural constraint: standardize what has to be kept in the head. And remember the lesson from faucet rotation on page 153: The standards should reflect the psychological conceptual models, not the physical mechanics. Standards simplify life for everyone. At the same time, they tend to hinder future development. And, as discussed in Chapter 6, there are often difficult political struggles in finding common agreement. Nonetheless, when all else fails, standards are the way to proceed. Using Sound as Signifiers Sometimes everything that is needed cannot be made visible. Enter sound: sound can provide information available in no other way. Sound can tell us that things are working properly or that they need maintenance or repair. It can even save us from accidents. Consider the information provided by: The click when the bolt on a door slides home The tinny sound when a door doesn t shut right The roaring sound when a car muffler gets a hole The rattle when things aren t secured The whistle of a teakettle when the water boils 156 The Design of Everyday Things The click when the toast pops up The increase in pitch when a vacuum cleaner gets clogged The indescribable change in sound when a complex piece of machinery starts to have problems Many devices simply beep and burp. These are not naturalistic sounds; they do not convey hidden information. When used properly, a beep can assure you that you ve pressed a button, but the sound is as annoying as informative. Sounds should be generated so as to give knowledge about the source. They should convey something about the actions that are taking place, actions that matter to the user but that would otherwise not be visible. The buzzes, clicks, and hums that you hear while a telephone call is being completed are one good example: take out those noises and you are less certain that the connection is being made.
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