An article in Slate about the incomprehensibility of European appliance interfaces...
Rather than words such as bake, broil, clean, European ovens almost always mark their controls with a library of comically obtuse Euroglyphics. Some of these symbols indicate whether the oven's heat comes from below or above and are relatively easy for a chump from the colonies to guess. Others are harder to fathom: the P with swirls around it, the P with somewhat larger swirls, the swirls inside a circle between two horizontal lines, the snowflake (odd for a device that we generally expect to heat its contents), and the weeping asterisk.... reminded me of Don Norman's CACM column ("Simplicity is highly overrated") and response. He says:
Make it simple and people won’t buy. Given a choice, they will take the item that does more. Features win over simplicity, even when people realize that it is accompanied by more complexity. You do it too, I bet. Haven’t you ever compared two products side by side, comparing the features of each, preferring the one that did more? Why shame on you, you are behaving, well, behaving like a normal person.He goes on to cite the Joel on Software column about "Simplicity".
The complex expensive toaster? I bet it sells well.
Don't miss the "American vs. European Domest Appliances" slide show.
A long time ago I couldn't figure out the meaning on an icon in an airplane bathroom. I asked one of the flight attendants and we figured out it was the flight attendance call button. But only to fetch flight attendances that looked like flattened ancient Egyptians.