The Pizzazz Plus: Usability Review

Surprise! You’ve been asking for it, and I will now undertake a hearty usability review of this wonderful household product: The Pizzazz Plus. Fresh or frozen, thin or rising crust, this pizza cooker does it all. Tap on the image to explore its functionality:

The Pizzazz Plus

The Pizzazz Plus
Timer Knob Heat Settings Switch Rotating Food Platter Plug

Timer Knob

Affordances

Adjust a cooking timer so the user can hear a “ding” when their food is done.

Signifiers

Impressions in this knob are noticeably for placing fingers.

Features a small arrow pointing to the current dialed setting. It is reasonably clear that this knob adjusts the timer for heating, although it is unclear whether or not heating will begin after adjusting this knob by itself.

Feedback

Audible “ding” when the timer knob hits “0” whether or not the device is actually on.

Audible clicks when turning.

Automatically turns while cooking to indicate remaining cook time.

Conceptual Model

Adjusting a dial on a cooking appliance is typically for one of two things: relative heat or time. In this case, it’s fairly clearly that turning the dial will set a time and that the system will stop cooking when the timer runs out.

      Heat Settings Switch

      Affordances

      Adjust the heat setting for the device. Food can be cooked from below, above, or both.

      Signifiers

      This “switch” features impressions on sides and text underneath. It isn’t extremely evident whether or not to turn, twist, pull, push, slide, or press this “switch” until reading the text underneath.

      Feedback

      Clicks into place when sliding, which helps the user understand if they’re actually making adjustments.

      Conceptual Model

      Based on the text explanation alone, it’s easy to assume that this switch affects the heating settings on the device. As a naive user, I’d likely keep this setting on “dual” at all times.

      Rotating Food Platter

      Affordances

      Defrost misc. frozen foods – pizza, corndogs, chicken, etc.

      Fully cook misc. food – pizza, chicken nuggets, hot pockets, cinnamon rolls, etc.

      Heat up food on top or bottom selectively

      Serve food on platter

      Heat surrounding area

      Signifiers

      The bumpy impressions and “CAUTION : HOT PAN” text signify the platter on which food should be placed. With appropriate context (understanding that this is for preparing food), this is a sufficient signifier.

      Feedback

      Manually turning the platter offers resistance, which suggests that I shouldn’t need to worry about manually adjusting it.

      Conceptual Model

      On first glance, I’m confused how this platter would cook my food from below. It looks like it just rotates food to be cooked from above. Regardless, there doesn’t seem to be anything I need to do to make this platter do its job.

      Plug

      Affordances

      Power the pizza cooker.

      Signifiers

      Interestingly, there isn’t a clear signifier for how to turn the device on. As a user, I am left to assume I just need to plug it in.

      Feedback

      Plugging in the device visibly turns it on. The platter immediately starts turning.

      Conceptual Model

      It’s a plug. I plug it in to turn the device on.

      All in all, this is a very basic pizza cooker. Like many household appliances, it isn’t immediately clear how to use it; users will likely find themselves settling for certain settings they know how to use and ignore everything else.

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