Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ordinary ergonomics

I'm continually astonished by the poor ergonomics of every day items. It's as if people don't actually try the things they create and put into the marketplace.

Today's example, believe it or not, is Betty Crocker's Dark Chocolate brownie mix.

If you've been living in a cave your entire life, I'll briefly describe this product. It's a box with a pouch of powder, and a second pouch of chocolate syrup inside. You mix the powder with a measured amount of water, vegetable oil, and eggs; pour it into a pan; throw it in the oven and bake until done. The result: a pan of brownies.

So what ergonomic issues could I be talking about? Well, the box has the instructions on the back. The instructions include the amounts of the ingredients you need to add to the mix, the temperature of the oven and the baking time.

That's pretty important information. In particular, the amount of water and oil you need to add is a particularly important piece of information, I'd guess.

So why the hell is that information in the smallest font on the box?! The font showing that you need to use ½ cup of oil is positively miniscule. So small that it's actually hard to tell whether it says ½ or ⅓ cup. Hell, it may even be hard to see the difference in your browser on this page, depending on your setup.

So, what? Could they not spare the extra few micrograms of ink?!

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