Don’t make me think (2)

Continued from yesterday.

Appliance: Control panel. Manufacturer: Honeywell.

Control panel
Control panel

Why do I need the manual? This panel controls the temperature for the winter heating. Being able to regulate it would be wonderful.

Description of homepage: Whitespace and a grid-based layout (screenshot).  I had no idea Honeywell was into aerospace. The homepage does convey a sense of a no-nonsense corporation in any case.

Is there a link to a manuals section on the homepage? No. By a process of elimination, I choose to click on ‘Automation and Control Solutions’.

What are the additional steps to take to get the manual I want? There is a myriad of control solutions they offer, but thankfully the one I need (Home Control) is right at the top. Clicking on that takes me to another page with a promising link: ‘Cronotherm User Manuals’.

Did I get the manual? Oh, yes I did. The page I land on is well-organised in five categories. Since the product code is all over the panel (and not to mention really short), I quickly identify the link to the manual I desire, and can henceforth enjoy customised heating.

Appliance: Vacuum cleaner. Manufacturer: LG.

Vacuum cleaner
Vacuum cleaner

Why do I need the manual? When it was unboxed, I remember reading something about it having washable parts. It sure could use some cleaning, having served for over one a half years since being purchased.

Description of homepage: If there’s such a thing as too much whitespace… They also seem to really be into social networking. View screenshot.

Is there a link to a manuals section on the homepage? No, but there’s one to home appliances.

What are the additional steps to take to get the manual I want? The home appliances menu has a flyout from which I choose vacuum cleaners. There are 11 pretty photos of the LG vacuum cleaner lineup. I use the handy filter option to select bagless vacuum cleaners. (Why are some photos close-ups and others not?)  After some eye-scrunching I decide that ours looks most like the last item.

Did I get the manual? Affirmative! The navigation at the top of the sparse page has a link to ‘Support’, under which I find not only the manual, but also a product FAQ, a toll-free number and an email link.

Appliance: Telephone. Manufacturer: Philips.

phone
phone

Why do I need the manual? We (my brother and I) need to figure out how to transfer calls from one handset to another.

Description of homepage: I love the layering and the shadows. The blue accents on the white background are also quite fetching. I can think of nothing negative to say. View screenshot.

Is there a link to a manuals section on the homepage? No, but there’s one to ‘Consumer Products’.

What are the additional steps to take to get the manual I want? The consumer products page has high-res pictures with glossy reflections. I click on ‘Telephones’. That takes me to a (gorgeous) graphics-rich page from which I choose to proceed to ‘Digital Telephones’.  There’s twenty of those, so I filter for the two-handset type. The photos are all nice, bright and clear. The various models are also distinct enough for me to recognise the second-last one as our phone.

Did I get the manual? Most certainly so! The product page has a prominent link to product downloads. Clicking on that results in an overlay with a cool shadow.

IMHO the winning characteristics of these three sites are:

One, they are easy on the eye, especially Philips. It was such an aesthetically pleasing site, I was very surprised to note that it was the one with the most steps from homepage to download.

Two, not once did they ask me for a product code. Only on the Elvox site, and even then only at the last  step, did I have to know it. LG and Philips had me navigate by images, a most intuitive way of doing so.

Bottom line: They didn’t make me think. As one of their taglines goes: sense and simplicity.

“Don’t make me think” is the title of a book I’d like to read one day. The book’s premise is that a good program or web site should let users accomplish their intended tasks as easily and directly as possible.