Ovens have terrible user interfaces

microwave

It's from 2013, but Tim Ellis's wrath at the insane, incomprehensible controls of modern ovens speaks for all of us.

This Jenn-Air microwave sports 34 buttons. Thirty-four buttons! The microwave in my kitchen at home is a similar Jenn-Air model, also with thirty-four flat, zero-feedback buttons. The vast majority of the time, I use exactly two of these buttons: “Add 30 Sec.” (which also starts the heat) and “Stop / Cancel.” For those of you keeping score at home, that makes 94% of the buttons on my microwave a total waste of space.

Combine an excess of useless buttons with a completely flat surface that has zero tactile feedback, and you’ve basically designed the worst interface possible. Which comes standard on most microwaves. For some reason.

I wonder if what's going on is this: adding features to microwave ovens improves the appeal to consumers at the point of sale, but generates no consequences, negative or positive, that might result in further refinement. It doesn't matter how bad the UI is so long as you can make it start and stop, because that's all anyone ever does with a microwave oven.

He recommends Sharp's commercial microwaves for their gas-stop simplicity. Pricey, but immortal. [via Skimfeed]

Notable Replies

  1. This... does not seem like an intuitive UI

  2. You're so cute, Shaddack!

    Deluded, but cute.

  3. Crappy interfaces seem to have become the norm for almost everything. I got a new, aftermarket car stereo 2 years ago, and I still can't do anything more advanced than change radio stations without pulling out the manual. And I have an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering. And I can't figure out why it's like that. It doesn't really do anything car stereos 30 years ago didn't do, but the controls were a lot simpler. It's just a CD player and a USB connection now instead of a tape plater. But the basic functions are the same. Play, pause, volume, etc. I think the designers are falling victim to the temptation to do things because they can, not because they should.

  4. Someone thought it necessary to have a chicken nuggets button?

  5. Original article author here. I just want to say that is is nice to know I am not the only one who can't stand microwave interfaces. Thanks for sharing my post, Rob!

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