Not Your Average Water Cooler

In the office, the water cooler is known more for being a social place for employees than just providing high quality H2O. Everyday I go to my work’s water to get a quick cup of water. Yet, my first trip to this water cooler had me a little surprised.

Below are two water coolers.

Image    Image


The left image is what most would consider an average water cooler, while the right is my work’s water cooler. It seems like many objects in our society, technology reinvents many things like the telephone into the smart phone, etc. Technology has done just that with the water cooler, along with the paradox that technology brings. The paradox of technology is the contradiction of how advancing technology is used more and more in objects to help make our lives easier; yet, in reality technology can result in being more complex for the user.

You can visually see this from the many differences from the left and right water coolers. Instead, of having the simplistic mental model handles that you lift up to get water from, my company’s has a water cooler that utilizes buttons. The use of a button isn’t relatively confusing to the user, however, their is complexity from other information that is provided in the design. For example, the right water cooler has not one, not two, but three water filters. Also it has two buttons for hot water.This adds complexity and confusion to the user because they don’t know which button to press in order to get hot water. I understand the need for filters and the system test for the custodians; however, why not continue to utilize the simplicity of the original water cooler.

I propose to eliminate the second hot water button, unless there is an important usage according to the designer model. Otherwise, the gulf of execution and evaluation is wider than it needs to be with two hot buttons. I would move the buttons towards the center (side by side) so the user can use some mental models. The other information lights and buttons like the filters light can be moved to the side. Overall, simplicity is the key, there shouldn’t be an overwhelming sense of complexity when it comes to a water cooler.


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