Business Analysis, User Analysis, User Experience

Products and their usage-a bad experience

Just yesterday I had a really scary experience with my washing machine. I want to post this for two reasons. First, the experience was so bad that the manufacturers of washing machines must take some steps to help better the user experience. The second reason is to caution you so that you do not go through this yourself in future. I am not really referring to the how good or bad washing is done, or how the clothes are treated in a machine. I am not even referring to the status of the clothes after they are taken out of the machine. My experience was rather silly, about how my entire house was filled with water because of the way the outlet pipe is designed.

The case of the outlet pipe

Well, as you are aware, every washing machine (I presume so) will have an inlet pipe for the incoming water and outlet pipe for draining the rinsed water out. The outlet pipe is usually about four feet long and made of rubbery plastic material. It is typically round and is made of concentric circles. I am not sure of the real reason behind this structure or design of the outlet pipe. However, due to its shape,structure and material used, the pipe is typically is a bit elastic, i.e., it moves and slides and shakes based on the force of water contained in it.

Our scary experience

We usually place some weight on the tube just so that it does not move when water is let out. However, yesterday perhaps due to the force of water jetting out, the weight got displaced and the pipe moved in forcing the water into the rooms. The whole of my house was filled with water and you can imagine our plight, in identifying and removing the critical items on the floor. Some of the items that got wet because of the mess were my books, CDs and some clothes. We had to rush and dry them so that they are not damaged permanently.

What’s the solution

I am sure some of you might have gone through the same problem sometime before. It is high time product manufacturers thought about these kind of problems seriously and attend to them. They need to think beyond their product’s features and their competitors’ tactics and look at the way products are being used by the end-users. It is not just the product’s main features and functions that matter, but also the entire elements and ecosystem surrounding the product that need to be looked at in greater detail. ┬áNot only do the product owners have to look at their users, but also need to understand the problems associated either directly or indirectly with their products’ usage.

In this case, for example, the outlet pipe could be made slightly longer, made into a different shape or structure so that it remains intact in spite of the pressure. Or better still, it could have a hook or anchor to hold it tight to the surface. This could help avert a few accidents and incidents which cause troublesome experiences to the users.

Dear product users

I had learnt a few lessons from this experience which I want to share with you all, when you are using any products or devices:

  • Never ever let the products/ devices be on themselves. Give a task to them and keep an eye on how they are doing the work
  • Take utmost care of minor things when using the products, including the way lids are placed, pipes connected, switches plugged in
  • Always have a plan B, which gets invoked, if things are not going smooth in the normal way
  • Be prepared to own up, clean up and start up once again, if anything goes wrong
  • Last, but not the least, share the accident or incident with others to help them and move on!

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