Chris Dzombak

sharing preview •

Fixing bad design with a label maker

Fixing bad design with a label maker

There are now two objects in my house that look odd but work 1000% better than when I bought them.

I quite like my alarm clock overall, but the buttons you use to control the light, volume, snooze, and alarm are tiny and it’s nearly impossible to tell which is which. They are labeled only by small text and/or icons in raised white plastic. They are low-contrast and unusable, especially in the dark.

So, armed with a label maker and off-brand colored labels, I made some improvements that allow me to find the most critical buttons even in low light:

Sunrise alarm clock with colored labels for the Alarm, Light, and Snooze buttons

(Hidden behind the bed is a Raspberry Pi-powered FM transmitter that eternally plays a nice classical playlist to customize this alarm clock even further, but that’s another topic.)

The microwave had a similar problem. Its buttons use uniform, small, low-contrast text and they aren’t laid out intuitively. Every time I used it I had to hunt around for the same couple buttons.

Same solution:

Microwave control panel with colored labels for the Cook Time, Timer, and Start buttons

Looks a little crazy, but it works!