In the wild

I recently bought a house, which included a few bathrooms. In one of these bathrooms, there’s a shower with fixtures made by a well-known, higher-end brand.

The shower is controlled by three stacked knobs. One controls water flow into the tub. One controls the temperature of the water. Neither is a problem.

But that third knob, oh that third knob, is a chronic headache. It controls water flow to both the shower head and to a handheld wand, in an either/or scenario.

Sounds innocuous so far, right? Just wait until you’re done with your shower. The problem is that the “off” position resides between those two alternatives and is not marked in any way.

As a result, the end of every shower becomes a delicate dance of turning off the water. If you turn the knob slightly past the off position (which is easy to do), water dribbles out of the wand. Finding the “off” position requires a repetitive exercise of modulating smaller amounts of water dribbling first from the wand, then from the shower head, and back – a task that can take several minutes to get right.

Yes, it’s a first world problem, I know. But, it’s such an easy problem to see. Anyone who has used a shower like this even once would immediately recognize the issue. SO, I wonder how the manufacturer couldn’t possibly know about it.

Is the brand not use their products themselves? Are they not observing (or, maybe in this case, interviewing) how customers actually experience their products?

How much time are you spending observing your products in the wild? Are you missing important insights because of it?

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