Journal Critique 1 — Microwave

1. Microwave

Most microwaves I’ve used have a built-in button on the lower right corner that, when pushed, ejects the microwave door open. This button makes it so that the user does not need to physically handle opening the microwave door (eg: pull the door open themselves by hand) in order to put their food inside. This also allows the user to hold their food with both hands in a more stable manner, avoiding potential mishaps and instability that may occur when trying to open the microwave door with one hand while holding their food in another.

Being an experienced microwave-door button pusher, I was confused that this microwave door did not pop open when I pressed into the lower right corner. It took me to a few tries to realize that this ‘button’ did not exist, and that this silver square was simply decoration. I have also witnessed my roommates and friends do the same thing when trying to use the microwave.

Because this button-like structure was placed at such an “expected” location for a microwave door button, many users mistook the extruded decor as a button. I believe the metal accents on the bottom was added to match the handle of the microwave, making the design more cohesive and modern. However, because the silver part on the bottom is extruded from the black part of the microwave, it establishes a sense of expectation in users who are used to having an extruding button located at the same place.

I believe that one way to prevent users from mistaking the lower right structure for a button would be to have it not extrude as much, curve out instead, or simply designed to be completely flush against the microwave. This would establish the metal parts as ‘integrated’ into the basic structure of the microwave, and thus, less likely to be mistaken for a button meant to be pushed or pressed.

Additionally, because this microwave relies solely on the user to yank the door open using the handle alone, I believe it would also benefit from having rubber pads or any type of ’legs’ in the back. Anything that provides traction to hold the microwave in place when the user is exerting force in pulling it forward. As the design stands right now, the microwave shifts forward quite a bit when being pulled open.

I believe both problems I’ve encountered can be easily fixed. The deceiving ‘button’ should either fully become a button, or be more integrated into the microwave to clear up any confusion. If a button were added, then there would also be no need to add traction pads to the back of the microwave. The existence of a button would push users to use the button to eject the door, rather than force to pull the door open.

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