Case Study: Stove Top UX

Problem

Most electric stovetops do not indicate which burner on until it is visibly hot. A seemingly easy solution would be to position all knobs in an identical position respective to the burners location on the stove. However, it does not appear to be practical to place knobs in the fashion illustrated below. We must think of the shipping process warehousing and logistics of moving stoves and how the process would be affected by ovens being shaped strangely due to the placement of knobs. These are my observations that which allow me to assume the reason stoves have the control knobs in a vertical or horizontal formation. The gas stove doesn’t suffer from this design problem because once lit; the flame gives an instant indication of which burner is on. However, there is a similar issue when a gas pilot is still on with no flame.

 

 

Here is a mockup of a small colorless display that can give an instant indication of a burner being on, and the location relative to the stove which solves the problem of lack of feedback but only addresses the issue with new stoves.

For existing electric stovetops, an alternative would be to have the knobs color-coded to correspond with a color indicator that matches the burner itself. While this would be static as well, there would significantly increase the visibility of what is understood that can be done with the tool which in this case is a stove.

If there is a material that is resistant to heat and can maintain color over an extended period, the solution could be implemented to existing stoves without any technical installation. Just put the same color “sticker” on the knob as the burner.

 

Most manufacturers add small illustrations to indicate which burner is activated. The problem with such pictures is they are static and give zero feedback.

 

Some of the more expensive stoves have addressed these concerns by having knobs reflect the same position as the burner they control. I believe this is the best solution, but how many of us want to buy a new stove?

Instant feedback for users is necessary for both positive and negative outcomes.

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