Sometimes you can hurry up easily and ignore obvious product details. One such example is the recently released PlayStation 5. Since its release, many users have reported that the optical disc drive is not working. Guess why? They were inserting the disc upside down! They almost had a heart attack when they thought they had a defective console or game disc.
And these are not my inventions, you can find related topics on Reddit.
Of course, we can blame the user for not reading the entire manual, but according to the first rule of UX design, the user is always right. So let’s look at this problem from a designer’s point of view.
The new vertical orientation of the console looks pretty darn nice, but it changes everything. Prior to this, the optical disc drive was located at the top of the device (PlayStation 1, 2, 3 and 4), which made it clear that the disc needed to be inserted with the shiny side towards the system. But with PS5 even in horizontal orientation it is not clear how to do it correctly:
The drive has been moved to the bottom of the device. This is a departure from the design language Sony has used in the past. This is different from what users have done so far and will have to re-learn the process. Moreover, it seems unnatural for the shiny side of the disc to be facing away from the system.
If you’ve read the book Don Norman “Design of familiar things”, you will find several fundamental errors:
The PS 1, 2 and 3 designs had a visual affordance in the form of a pull-out tray or its visible components. In PS5, it is completely hidden in the name of aesthetics.
The PS4 was mostly used in a horizontal position with the drive at the top (just like previous consoles) and the disc was inserted with the shiny part into the system. The PS5 has broken that sequence with its new vertical design.
Yes, in the user manual Sony mentioned the correct way to install the disc (shiny side from the system). That’s not bad. But let’s be honest, who is going to read the manual if your device is plug-and-play?
I think this can be improved in the following way.
You can add a simple label or icon next to the drive, like the USB and HDMI ports, to indicate which side to insert the disc. It does not have to be black, it can be gray or embossed on plastic to maintain its appearance. What do you think? Maybe you know another solution? Write in the comments below.
PlayStation 5 aesthetics look amazing 🔥 but again it comes down to form over function … So remember, every detail counts. What may be obvious to you as a designer may be something completely new to your audience.
PS. In fact, I do not have a PS5, in my post I am relying on data found on the Internet.