The microwave at the house we’re staying at doesn’t have any number buttons. If you want to punch the 1 and the 4 and the 5 to enter in a time of 1:45 you can’t, because those numbers don’t exist.
Next to a start button, numbers are probably the most important thing to me on a microwave. Instead of having them though we have a big dial. To set a precise time you have to spin it like a contestant on the Price Is Right. I’ll admit, that is different than any other microwave I’ve owned, but is different always better?
You can see how things like this happen. In a meeting somewhere in an R&D building someone said, “Every microwave has number buttons, let’s be different.” Or they said, “People seem to like the big wheel on the old iPods. Let’s incorporate that concept into a microwave. That will make us different.”
But sometimes different isn’t better, it’s just different. And if that’s the only reason you’re different, you run the risk of actually being dumb.
I’ve never complained, “I wish this microwave didn’t have number buttons. I’m so tired of being able to precisely enter in a heating time. The clutter of this number pad is really bothering my aesthetic experience with this device that heats popcorn.”
It’s OK to do things the same way as other people sometimes. Don’t get stuck on the idea of different. Sometimes same is smart and different is dumb.
Have you ever seen a product that’s just different for the sake of being different?