Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

3 January 2005

The Ideal Stovetop

My stove is annoying. For two reasons. One is that I have to reach over whatever I’m cooking to adjust the heat. The second reason is the dials are oriented in such a manner that often I turn on the wrong burner.

Why can’t designers of stoves make their stoves so that it’s obvious which burners I’m turning on when I rotate the dial?

Stovetop dials. An ideal situation.

Some stoves use this 2×2 orientation for the dials, but most of them use an all-in-a-row idea. Why the all-in-a-row idea ever was considered wise is just completely beyond me. Many stove-makers, when using the all-in-a-row idea, have tried to conquer this problem by putting little diagrams or text under the dials. There are two problems with this “solution.” First, if you designed your stove well, it’s going to last a long time, and the paint used to mark these dials will wear off. I can attest to this, as the paint on my stove is doing just that. Second, and more importantly, one should know which dial they’re adjusting before they even reach for it.

Some might disagree with me on this point. They might say, “Hey man, you’re cooking. you’re playing with dangerous stuff, you should be paying extra attention to what you’re doing. Just read the labels!” I agree, you should pay attention to what you’re doing. And that’s all more reason to make the dials intuitive. Make it idiot-proof!

Without going into too much more detail, I’m going to open it up to discussion. Am I being nit-picky? Any other examples from regular life where you think things should be more appropriately designed? Does it matter? You know where I stand, but tell me your thoughts.