Fireplace hangersI'd never have thought of this during a design phase.
My mother is visiting for a few weeks, and this last weekend I took her to visit Muiderslot Castle near Amsterdam. Near the end of the tour, I noticed a particular charactaristic of a fireplace, that made me think about how we design products these days.
At first glance, it looked like a long, thin saw blade, from which the pot was hanging.
It only took a moment for me to recognize its purpose. The theeth served as a ratchet, to fix the height of the pot above the burning fire.
Now I’ve cooked over camp fires before, and even on a wood-burning stove a few times in my life. But I’ve never cooked over an open fire place, and I’ve never used a fireplace hanger. And although the utility of this simple device was perfectly obvious to me once it was presented, it got me thinking…
Would I have ever thought of this on my own during the design phase, if I were designing an open fire place on my own?
I really doubt it.
Even my countless hours of playing Skyrim and other medeival-themed video games is not enough that I would have thought of this use case.
I may have been able to extrapolate from my experience with camp fires that I would want a way to place a rack at different heights above the flame. This is, afterall, a common feature of BBQ grills fitted in many public parks (at least in the U.S.).
But I imagine that even hours of sitting, brainstorming features for an open fire place would not have come up with the need to fix a pot at different heights above an open flame, let alone this solution.
However, I bet that using a fireplace to boil water for tea, to cook a stew, or even to wash clothes, for just a few hours, if even that long, would have made this need immediately obvious to me.
How often do we overlook obvious features by not including the users of our product?
Launch before you're ready
What learning are you missing out on by waiting until your product or feature is more perfect?
What are the consequences?
Before we stress ourselves, let's understand if this actually matters.
It's retro day!
If you find that you can improve the way you're working, don't wait.
Improve your software delivery