It’s become fashionable in the last few years to focus on User Experience, trendily abbreviated UX, and a considerable upgrade in status from UI (User Interface) Design from which it descends. I hope nobody thinks that’s actually new, but if it takes a name to make a thing important, I’m ok with that. The desired experience we want users to have is typically something like “delight” which sounds, well, delightful.
When it comes to delight, no detail is too small. My case in point: knob feel. If you make stuff with physical interfaces, you might be making knobs. If you make only digital interfaces, stick with me, the ideas apply. Knobs are common in cars, especially but not exclusively on the radios, and they’re in all sorts of audio gear, and home appliances from toasters to air conditioners. You might think a knob is a knob, but you’d be wrong.
Knobfeel.co.uk is a website devoted to the feel of knobs, generally on high end audio equipment. This is not a joke, though the site has a sense of humor about itself. Details matter, even ones that appear to be incidental to the function of the product. Human interface matters, tactile feedback matters, materials and precision matter.
I don’t know why knobfeel hasn’t reviewed my own favorite knob, that of the Tivoli Model One, a radio that also happens to have a wooden cabinet. Whatever the reason for that terrible omission, I’m still glad that knob feel is out here for us all. If you find yourself not sweating the small stuff, consider that there might not actually be any small stuff.