Mute buttons, silent mode and polite products


Most of us probably take it for granted that cell phones have a “silent” mode for when we’re in a meeting. Similarly, we’re accustomed to being able to mute the sounds on our computer (or a specific program) when we’re on a call or don’t want to be bothered by chimes and beeps and alerts. These features arguably make for a more polite product, and have become widespread on computers, cell phones, and software programs.

However, relatively low-tech electronic products tend to lack a mute or silent feature. For instance, does your coffeemaker or microwave have a way to mute the sounds? Probably not. While the need for this level of control may be more dubious, it would certainly make the products more polite — and probably wouldn’t cost much, either.

The people who design the tried-and-true products for our homes and offices would do well to take a closer look at the high-tech gizmos that consumers use every day. In doing so, they would probably discover easy and cheap areas for enhancement — like a mute button — that customers never thought to ask for, but would be thrilled to find on their next purchase.