Minimalism and the Art of the Perfect Espresso

1. Design Heuristic: Aesthetic and Minimalist Design

2. Positive Example: Nespresso Espresso Machine in my dorm room. This coffee machine is extremely minimalist in design, featuring only two buttons. One button is for an espresso while the other is for a “lungo” or a larger shot of espresso. As stated in the design heuristic, the dialogue with the user does not contain information which is “rarely needed.” Since the function of this machine is to make coffee, only buttons pertaining to this function are present without extraneous information.

3. Negative Example: Coffee Machine in the offices of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology. This coffee machine is full of buttons and a grand total of 21 icons on the left side of the machine only! Many of these buttons and icons will only infrequently be needed by the user, but they are prominently displayed nonetheless. Besides this fact, the detailed reasoning behind each button is also present. As one might expect, this leads to a great deal of frustration when tired people approach the machine to make coffee and are confronted with an unintelligible flashing icon of what looks like a snowflake. While this coffee machine admittedly does have more features than the Nespresso machine, it is clearly unnecessary to have so many buttons and detailed explanations on the front of the machine.

4. In this revised sketch of the coffee machine from part 3, I have completely eliminated 17 of the icons from the previous design as well as all of the text that was visible to the user previously. All of this information has been replaced with a small display. If one of the myriad problems that this coffee machine can encounter appears, a descriptive error message such as “Water Tank Empty” will flash on the display. This eliminates the need to identify an icon and then refer to the sheet below to understand what it means. I kept the click wheel because of its minimalist, intuitive design.

About the author: wilderwohns

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