Mapping control to output on a stove
Read through these 5 examples of failure in mapping controls to burners on a stove, and then propose a
This fails because, as Donald Norman says, “any
time users have to read directions, your design
has already failed.” Not entirely true, but you can
see his point: the design should be an affordance
for not only operating but also understanding.
In this case the mapping is too arbitrary. The
spatial arrangement of the controls could have
many different relations to the burners.
Here we have a slight improvement on the first.
Left/right controls now have a natural mapping
to left/right burners. But back/front is still
Suppose your boss says she wants to customize
the GUI (“graphical user interface”) on the gadget
you are designing so that different versions can
be sold in different nations. How might the way
folks read text in different nations matter to the
control layout?
You avoided the potential problem of non-English
speakers getting confused, but drawing lines on
the stove might be an aesthetic problem. It also
fails to get at the root of the issue, which is the
lack of clear mapping between controls and
Your users are going to burn themselves reaching
across the stove, and large cooking vessels will hit
the controls.
Now is your chance to succeed where these designers have failed! Sketch an alternative design. You can
move around the burners and controls wherever you like. Add an image of your sketch to the discussion
(above is from