An exhaust fan with hidden talents

Four years ago I moved into a newly built house, which of course came with a new kitchen. After four years, the exhaust fan in this kitchen taught me a lesson about pretty design vs. a good user experience.

This is how the exhaust fan over the stove our looks:

It’s a pretty standard fan, which puts on the lights and fan when you pull it out, unless you turn the knobs to the right. The fan is not very strong, but works just fine.

Our neighbor has exactly the same model, and a little while ago she asked if we knew how to adjust the suction power of the fan. She has now in fact found out … after four years. Neither my wife nor I have ever thought about this and I was quite surprised when I realized that the switches to the right of the unit also served as an “arm” you could fold down to adjust the suction power:

My fan has had a hidden talent for four years. And had my neighbor not accidentally found this out, I would have still believed that the fan had only on / off function …

I’m well able to live with a fan stuck on strength “1″.

There are bigger things to be get frustrated over … However, I feel cheated by the fan designer who would completely hide a very basic function. As you look at a detailed picture of the switches are not many hints that there are several possibilities:

Sure! I’m sure this is explaned in the user manual to the exhaust fan. But that has, of course, never been read by neither me nor any of my 23 neighbors with identical fans. For I hope you agree with me that you shouldn’t required to read a user manual to use an exhaust fan?

How could fan the designer have solved this, then?

Like this?    Or this?  

And these thoughts aren’t very difficult to transfer to interactive design, right? :-)
Don’t hide your navigation! Give at least a hint that there is something there … And something with so little importance, that you are willing to hide it … is perhaps an unnecessary feature?

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