Bad Design – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Buttons, Buttons and Buttons
❖ Large number of buttons and other controls.
❖ Steep learning curve for basically a simple task.
❖ Similar control for very different functions – also need to know English!
❖ Field of buttons – must either “read” all the labels or “memory” where all the desired
Some Good Design
❖ Volume and channel controls are different shapes.
❖ Still using labels but there is a visual cue that allows you to tell the difference between
the two functions.
❖ But… why these shapes? How do they relate to the functions? Historical Design Artifacts
❖ Sometimes confusing design features are caused by historical use of design adaptations.
Sometimes Awkward is Good
❖ Sometimes confusing design features are on purpose… For example, …
o The handle for train doors are on the outside.
▪ Safety – slow is better
▪ Safety – make the user think
▪ History – porters opened the doors for passengers
❖ Good designs involve understanding how the artifact is really used.
❖ Bad design does not value this – some other issue if given more priority to the detriment
for the utility of the design.
Give us a Cue!
❖ Good design advertises its functionality naturally.
❖ Bad design does not cue the user and forces them to use memory or trial and error. For
example, which side is up? And what does up means?
❖ Asymmetry is your friend!
Working under Bad conditions
❖ Conditions are not always as you like, but your design has to work ALL of the time!
❖ Try opening the right window in the dark or with gloves on! (Car window example
pg#63) ❖ Layout of the controls mirrors the window positions are too close, black and not near
what they control which is a basic design principle in many control situations.
When different is not enough…
❖ Humans need meaning
❖ Make design choices that help people find meaning
❖ At the very least, do not harm… do not create opportunities for mistakes or confusion.
And Finally… out the door
❖ Doors are excellent design subjects
❖ How do you know whether to push or pull?
❖ How does the door “speak” to you?
Design is hard… Good design is really hard…
What is Good Design?
Good design is…
❖ Invisible and natural