Half-Bit Software

Silly Design

Along the same lines as my pen post, I’ve wanted to write about this for ages. Ever see stuff in your day to day life that makes you pause and wonder what someone was thinking? Or why something was done a certain way? If you haven’t, you’re a Zen master, because there’s weird, questionable crap all around. Take, for example, this remote. It controls a ceiling fan, and the buttons look like this:

Ignore the snazzy green Elevation dock.Ignore the snazzy green Elevation dock.

Points in its favor: the buttons are big. There’s a light at the top that blinks when it receives input, so you know that it got the message.

Points against: why - and this is my big quibble with the damned thing - why are the buttons in a circular ring? Without looking, which one’ll turn off the fan completely? Which one’ll set it to medium? I’ve lived with this fan for four years, and I still can’t tell you. I have to read the buttons to figure out which one to press. Every. Single. Time.

Why aren’t they in a big stack, with “fast” at the top and “off” at the bottom? There’s even a light button - have the fan speed buttons get wider as it gets faster, and have the light at the top! Maybe even shape it like a stupid lightbulb!

This remote is my design nemesis. It irks me. It’s irksome.

Minor update: The lovely people from Fracture agreed with me on Twitter! They also brought up a point that I meant to mention on here, that the buttons are laid out to mimic the appearance of a fan. Because they reminded me, they get complete credit. The remote is absolutely supposed to look like the spinning blades of a fan. It’s the only thing that’d make any sense - it’s neat from a skeuomorphic perspective, but pretty awful usability.