Usability in the Household

December 27, 2004

We have finally got an alarm installed at our place after being robbed some months ago. It was interesting to see that the introduction in the manual contained the following statement:

Programming simplicity and speed were some of the major considerations and we believe that our objectives in this area were more than satisfied.

By all counts the alarms is pretty easy to use with consistent use of tones and buttons to achieve the variety of tasks that it can perform. The manual is also laid out well enough that you can find out what you need to know. There is some terminology that isn’t clearly defined though. The manual is also a printed/photocopied booklet that is stapled together at the spine. These booklets are almost impossible to flick through because the pages at the right hand side stick out by different amounts. This can be easily remedied with a guilotine though. It’s good to see a company that is actively considering usability during the design phase. Unfortunately the purchasing decision was only loosely based on design (we wanted an alarm with a small keypad as opposed to a silly large one). The first considerations were a reliable well established company, price, no monitoring contract and general features. Just goes to show that design alone doesn’t get the sale.

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