Everyday Design: Appliance Diaries, A Story of User-Experience Evolution

Untitled1When my husband and I purchased our home 6 years ago, it was equipped with all of our appliance needs other than a washer and dryer. We found a good deal on some new ones on an online Sears sale and had them delivered within the first month of living there. Neither of us had ever purchased new appliances-they were either supplied in a lease term, or we mooched hand me downs from friends and family. Additionally, neither of us had ever had a gas dryer. Because of this, we didn’t realize we would need to purchase additional connector parts. Nor did we realize the delivery charge did not include the installation of the dryer. The website did not help in educating us about these things either. We got lucky though. The man who delivered them went above and beyond and not only supplied us with the needed parts, but he helped us to install the dryer as well. The damage was done though. I felt stupid, like I should have known what goes into hooking up a gas dryer. I think the delivery man sensed this and so he said to me, “This happens all of the time. This is why we carry extra parts in our truck.” Upon reflection after my delivery hero left that day, I realized it wasn’t me that was stupid. I’m not a delivery driver for Sears and I don’t know anything about gas dryers or their parts. That doesn’t make me stupid. I was a victim of stupid design.

Fast forward to today: my husband and I recently replaced all of the other appliances in our home that were beginning to sound like animals in pain. Once again, we turned to a huge online Sears’s sale for our appliance needs, but this time I was prepared. Having felt stupid last time made me overly aware of what we needed to purchase with each appliance. I was no longer going to be caught feeling stupid.

The amazing thing is this time I didn’t have to know all there was to know about appliances. This time their website helped me. It nicely included the necessary parts for installation (the water hose for my fridge for example) along with an installation as options with each and every appliance. What an improvement from the first time I had made a similar purchase! My heart smiled a little at the thought that this new design would prevent other first time appliance purchasers from feeling stupid. Or so I thought…

It just so happens that the new and improved design did not alleviate all of my stupidity. Apparently, installation of the fridge and gas range are done by those who delivered all of the appliances, but for reasons unclear to me, the dishwasher installation had to be done by a different resource and had to be scheduled separately. It seems like a gas range would be more difficult to hook up than a dishwasher; but then again, as stated before, I don’t know anything about appliance installation. Regardless, once again, this was not clear from the website. Granted, my most recent user experience was a great improvement from the initial encounter, but this is a perfect example of how great design never stops iterating. I look forward to more website updates (hopefully) when we need to replace appliances in the future.

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