Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I get moist around the eyes when thinking about oven temperature probes

Do product decisions sometimes make you cry?

Take the ongoing issues with several oven temperature probe sensors that I've talked about in this blog over the years (see this example). And the problem continues to crop up - see this example from last month.

The meat probe for our Kenmore Elite elec. range will not work and gives an F33 error message when plugged in.

Now to a consumer, an F33 error message is meaningless - just as meaningless as a message to remove your oven temperature probe sensor when it's not plugged in.

Now these cryptic messages are not confined to ovens; I remember how early Macintosh computers would provide error messages like "ID 01."

The problem is that the error messages are written from the point of view of the product manufacturer, and because of this are sometimes written poorly - either giving information which is of no use to the consumer (F33, ID 01), or information which is of no use to anybody.

However, I can see why this happens. Let's say that Empoprises was about to release its own oven. There are a lot of things that we have to do before that oven can be released to the general public. First, we need the technical specifications to build the oven. Then we need procurement people to buy all of the parts. Then we need to hire people to build the things. At the same time, we're thinking about countless other issues - whether the oven looks sexy (for those who choose to have sex with their ovens; I will not judge), whether the oven's price is at the optimum point, whether dealers will put the Empoprises oven in front of all of the other ovens, and the like.

When you're thinking about all of that, how much time are you going to spend making sure that error messages can be understood by someone who purchases your products?
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