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June 12th, 2006

Business Phone Design is Awful

Tell me this: as phones for homes have changed radically over time, why haven’t work phones?

The phone I use at work is, pretty much, awful. The aesthetics are the first thing I can quibble over: it’s ugly. Uninspiring. Doesn’t make me want to call anyone, ever, because it’s going to be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Great!

But more than that, why can’t anyone design a work phone that does conferencing and transferring without memorization of stupid key sequences? Yes, this Ping stems from the fact that I accidentally disconnected someone last week when trying to transfer a call. Why? Because it wasn’t clear how to do that. There’s a “Transfer” button. But I’d put him on hold and, apparently, that’s a no-no. Go figure. Thanks for helping me, phone.

Other than the confusion around transferring and conferencing (there is no standard on keys to press), there’s the issue of its display. There’s a little LCD next to a lot of the buttons on the phone. When someone calls, for instance, a little triangle flashes on the display next to the button with my extension number on it. Great.

Sometimes, though, the little triangle points to other buttons. If I press “Handsfree/Mute”, the triangle jumps up there. Quick: is the caller on mute or handsfree? Exactly. What happens if I press it again? Unknown. And why, god, why is the button to hang up on someone labeled “Rls”? Come on. (On my boss’s phone, it’s “Goodbye!”)

I think that a lot of frustration in the office could be alleviated if someone just hired a damn designer to create a phone that made sense. This is nonsense, and it’s another instance where badly designed technology gives all technology a bad rep.

Posted in Miscellaneous

DATE: Monday June 12, 2006 -- 8:46:54 am
There are plenty of good business phones available. Your company just didn't spend the bucks to buy you one.

DATE: Monday June 12, 2006 -- 8:52:26 am
Hey Paul, where is that Ping book you were writing 4 years ago? (See the 2002 entry on X Years Ago)

FROM: Paul
DATE: Monday June 12, 2006 -- 9:25:59 am
I think it's on the shelf next to the Book of Ping.

FROM: Maria
DATE: Monday June 12, 2006 -- 12:41:32 pm
My company spent the bucks for a new phone system, and I think you need a degree in computer science to run these phones. The only thing I've got down pat is calling others in the office.

FROM: aharris
DATE: Monday June 12, 2006 -- 5:48:06 pm
I have to agree w/ pinger COD. We have pretty nice VOIP phones here that seem to work well. None of that strange triangle business for us. :)

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday June 13, 2006 -- 9:03:09 pm
Oooh, you must have Meridian phones. That "handsfree/mute" has irritated me for years.

What annoys me the most is that nobody has put any effort into a system that normalized volume levels. On any conference call with three people, one of them will be insanely loud, while one will be impossible to hear. Come on! Auto-levelling has existed for music players for years now!

What is this then?

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