Designing Meaningful Interactions: First Assignment

For our first assignment, we had to write about an everyday object we think has a good user experience, and one that is frustrating. Since the frustrating object came to mind immediately, I’ll write about that first:


Bad Design

I hate my coffee maker. In the three and a half years we’ve lived together, my roommate and I have begun the search to replace it at least 20 times, but our terrible little Mr. Coffee machine has somehow managed to survive.

Where to start with its flaws?

The coffee pot
Somehow, it is designed to spill every time you pour it. Instead of emerging from the lip of the pot in a neat stream, it leaks down the side of the pot onto the countertop.

The fix: Our solution has been to pour coffee over the sink. The better solution for the makers of this machine would be to test and iterate on the current design until they come across one that doesn’t spill. I’ve seen coffee pots that don’t spill; I know it’s possible.

The program interface

It occurs to me now that this could probably use a cleaning…

With my coffee maker, you can brew the coffee immediately or set a delay time to brew it later. The problem is that the buttons for these two features look exactly the same, are stacked, and only distinguished by text that has rubbed off in the last few years. As a result, we have woken up several times to cold coffee.

The fix: To further distinguish these buttons, I would make them more distinct either in shape or location on the interface. If the Delay Brew button lived to the right of the Brew Now button instead of below it, for example, it might better signify a delay in time.

The water place (I’m not sure what this is actually called)
The compartment that the water goes in has a small opening, and the “window” on its side is foggy, making it hard for the user to detect how much water she has poured.

The fix: For the former, we have discovered that the extendable nozzle of our kitchen faucet can stretch to the coffee maker, making it easier to get water into the compartment. Another solution for kitchens that don’t enjoy this proximity could be a detachable water compartment. The user could take it out of the machine, pour water from the faucet in the sink, and replace it.

For the foggy window, the easiest solution is to use a better material that will allow the user to see the water through it. Another fix could be including an LED in the compartment that the user could switch on if she’s having trouble seeing the water level.


Good Design


A few months ago, I switched over to a conditioner in a container with an push-down nozzle, resembling a giant soap dispenser. It was a great decision.

The design of this bottle saves me no more than five or ten seconds per shower, but that adds up after a daily (or sometimes every-other-day, I admit) shower. I don’t have to pick up a slippery bottle and risk dropping it on my toes, and with one press of a pump whose rounded top invites pressing, I have the perfect amount of conditioner in my hand. It’s such a simple interaction, but I appreciate it so much.


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