Saturday, January 5, 2008

Bad Product Design

So being a UI Designer I am always trying to make things easier to use. I need to make sure that the product meets the mental model of the user. Well and I am passionate about what I do.

So I am always analyzing other products for good and bad. Like the iPhone - it's a great design, although the scroll initially annoyed me because you have to move your hand in the opposite direction than I had expected, but I quickly learned the behavior, and have no more issue with it.

Donald Norman's Design of Everyday Things is a great book about this whole subject. He's also written Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things - which I haven't read yet - it's on my list of things to do. And he just published a new book: The Design of Future Things that is getting mixed reviews. But I will have to check it out for myself to decide.

Now onto the bad design that has been making me nuts. I bought a plug in air freshener from Bath and Body Works. You take this oil thing and screw it into the thing that plugs into the wall. It smells really nice - I'm enjoying that at least.

However, to screw in the scent thingy - you have to screw it in counter clockwise! To screw it out - you screw it out clockwise!! WTF??? Who does this? For years maybe hundreds of them, people have screwed things in clockwise and unscrewed them counter clockwise. It's a UNIVERSALLY accepted way to do things!!!!!! All items I have ever encountered before that had to be screwed into something worked with this model. So because I already have a mental model of how this works.. righty tighty, lefty loosy - I assumed this would follow the universally accepted model..... but nooooooooo why should millions of products built to a certain standard make them think it's a good idea to follow that?

On one hand I've only had to change out the oil thing 3 times, but on the other each time it makes me angry that it's backwards!

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