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The always clever Rory Sutherland puts chapter 5 of Nudge to excellent use.

Amazingly there is a single item in your home which defies all three of these Nudge principles. It is the DVD player — a hateful example of bad design.

1) Feedback. Every input to a DVD player has no observable effect for four seconds. Simply ejecting a disk means pressing ‘eject’ then making a cup of tea while you wait for the machine to wrestle with its inner demons. ‘HAL, open the disk bay door!’ ‘I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t allow you to do that.’

2) Choice architecture. The standard DVD remote control is covered by 37 buttons all of an equally fiddly size, 32 of which perform no useful function whatsoever.

3) Defaults. When I load a disk, it’s because I want to watch the film. From the start. In bloody English. The remote is by now somewhere under the sofa, so the last thing I need is a menu screen asking whether to ‘a) play the main feature? or b) watch 17 minutes of unreleased footage with a spoken commentary and Flemish subtitles?’ Default to a), damn it!

While we’re at it, kill that advertisement at the beginning of every DVD which suggests that piracy is no different from car theft. First, this admonition only appears on legal DVDs, so the target audience won’t see it. Second, it’s insane to claim piracy is equivalent to physical crime. ‘You wouldn’t desecrate a cemetery,’ it suggests, ‘and you wouldn’t burgle a pensioner’s flat while smearing excrement over the walls. So what makes you think Cameron Diaz doesn’t deserve a bigger yacht?’

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