Examples of bad design

My microwave light button beeps each and every time to signify that the light level is changing. If I can’t see the light changing, then I wouldn’t be using the button, and in fact could not have found the button in the first place, as there is no tactile difference. Not only this, but the LED readout tells me that the light is now off. I know: it just got darker in here.

Why should anyone have to push a button to take out the car ignition key? What is this preventing? If anything, it’s making it harder to take the key with you and not lock it in.

Our work copier is given to beeping when nothing is noticeably happening, and nothing appears on the screen. No one know what that is.

Our refrigerator has LEDs showing through little squares above buttons that choose water/crushed ice/cubed ice. If it’s fairly dark, though, you can’t read the button labels, because GE decided to put the light through a clear little square instead of clear little letters.

My shower has no adjustment for water flow. You get full power at all times: on is on.

An iPod has no way to FF/RW faster in a track. If the track is an hour long you have to hold down the button for multiple minutes sometimes.

More examples from the Teeming?

I hear ya on the shower - our current house has that “feature” and I think it ought to be illegal.

On the iPod: Yo can do that. Press the center button a couple of times in a row and you’ll cycle through volume adjustment, a “position in track” display, a description, etc. - when in the “position in track”, you can stroke your thumb around the circular area to move the little pointer to the right or left. The “time from beginning” and “time til end” figures will change as you do so. If you’re on a long track (e.g. an audiobook) you’ll see that the time change per degree of movement will accelerate as you keep on moving the finger.

Yeah, I was about to say that. Or, on the iPod Touch/iPhone, you can just drag your finger directly on the “position in track” display, which you bring up by touching the album cover area of the screen.

Oh yeah - bad design. Steam irons. Who decided that the little spout for filling them should be so small and fiddly that unless you have some kind of nano-pipette, it is impossible to add water without pouring it down your arms and/or across the ironing board?

My car door beeps loudly and continuously when it is open - I have never, in 25 years of driving, had an open car door when I didn’t open it on purpose myself and was trying to do something (like vacuum the floor or clean inside). If there was an option to shut that alarm off, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Thought of another one - watch band pins. My latest one is an improvement - the pin has a little knob that you can move to make one end of the pin go in and out. With this improvement, it took me about half an hour to change the band on my watch recently. Seriously, this is the best design we’ve got for holding watchbands on watches?

The mixing container and blade for my food processor has all the little nooks and crannies as an artifact of the molding process for the tabs that it swivel connects onto the base. When something gooey and paste like in consistancy gets pushed into them by operation, a trip through the dishwasher can’t clean em out. Hand washing wont clean em out either, you have to take a skewer or other pointed item and scrape em out. Who ever CAD-CAMed that sucker never cleaned a food proccessor in their life.

My car remote as a “panic button” located directly under my thumb where I normally carry the thing. So I am frequently hitting the alarm by mistake.

My digital point-and-shoot camera has the On/Off switch right beside the shutter button. It’s one of those really small cameras, so I’ve lined up great shots, waited for the great action, and when The Moment occurred, my man-sized fingers have turned the camera off.

The Can-Am Spyder (a sporty three-wheel motorcycle) has no brake on the handlebar (or at least it didn’t when I test-rode one–they might have changed it by now). Instead, it has only a foot brake, located on the right side directly in front of the footpeg. In practice, what this means is that when you go over a bump, your foot has a good chance of coming down on the brake inadvertently, thus causing you to to slow or stop rather more quickly than you’d expected to. Same thing if you’re trying to modulate the braking–one bump and wham!

The spouse and I went to test-ride these things with the full intent of buying one. We were ready to put down our downpayment and sign up. After the test ride, we both looked at each other and went, “Yeah…no.” It wasn’t just the brake, it was the very weird steering that was completely counterintuitive for anyone used to riding a motorcycle.

Gorgeous vehicle, bad implementation.

In the new Internet Explorer 8, the drop-down list of recently-visited sites includes an individual button that you can drag to to delete just that site from the history. Good idea! Except that the buttons are directly under the down arrow. So, you click on the down arrow to pull up your recent history, scroll straight down to the site you want to return to, and… delete it from the history instead of going to it.

The silverware compartments on our dishwasher have hinged covers that you can snap down into place. The covers are full of slots, with the idea that you put one item in each slot, handle end facing down. This leaves only the spoon-y/fork-y end sticking out above the cover. Which means the only way to pull your clean silverware out of the compartments is to grab the parts that go in your mouth with your grubby germy little fingers.

Hubby, who loves the small appliances, bought a Rachel Ray food processor.

The walls of the bin, instead of being straight up and down, swell out about 1/2 inch on each side.

This ensures that, centrifugal force pushes any unchopped chunkage into those exact spots, which, of course, cannot, by design, be reached by the blades. Useless piece of shit.

Since we’re on the topic, let me just give a great big shout out to the designers of the standard american style toilet. Clearly it was put together by someone who need never worry that they would have to clean it. Not the interior, the exterior. The entire thing is bad design and every woman knows it.

The design insures it will be installed against a wall meaning you must get on your knees to clean the now almost unreachable parts. Cleverly designed with lots of nooks to catch maximum dust and crap. Oh, and make sure the bolts protrude so those little hood dealies can catch some crap too.

Now let’s install it into it’s own little alcove to insure that cleaning it is yet more difficult than originally designed. I hope you all come back at maids at a cheap hotel!

In their quest to make all remote controls smaller, yet still have hundreds of options, they have made the buttons so tiny that you wind up hitting the wrong, or multiple buttons, whenever you click it. I need to use an ice pick to select an option on those buttons that are about .004 millimeters wide.

Not to mention the tiny letters. (To be fair I am almost 50. :D)

When my son was about a year-or-so old we got him a Little Touch LeapPad by Leapfrog. It’s an eletronic toy that teaches kids basic reading and counting skills, and is geared towards children 6 months to 3 years.

The people who designed it must not actually have children, because for whatever reason they put the prominant ON/OFF button right in front. Do they not know that kids that age love to push buttons? Every time we’d settle in to do some learnin’, my son would promptly reach out and press the pretty button. The device would promptly say “Goodbye!” in a perky computer voice and shut down. I’d admonish him by saying “No, no, buddy, don’t press that” and turn it back on. He’d press the button again and laugh like a monkey. Again, and again, and again…

A buddy of mine who has a child a few months older than mine seemed intrigued by the Little Touch LeapPad, so I offered to let him borrow it for a few days before he rushed out and bought one. The next time he came by, he brought it back with him.

“What did you think?” I asked.

“Ehhhh. It’s kinda’ cool, but Alex just kept turning the damn thing off. Why’d they put the ON/OFF switch right there in front?!”

It’s designed to prevent accidentally removing the keys from the ignition while the car is moving; which can cause all sorts of problems.

IPod does have a FF/RW option. I think you press the middle and then just scroll, or something like that. Sansa, on the other hand, lacks such an option. In fact, everything about Sansa’s interface sucks except for the pretty colors.

Wow! I never use my rear break, only my front on my motorcycle. I could see myself in a panic stop and losing valuable split seconds reaching for a break lever that isn’t there.

You don’t wash your hands before putting the dishes away?

My keys were regularly pushing my panic button, so I superglued it in place.

Yes it can, but I have never heard of this problem. Not only that, but all the other manufacturers get by with just having to push the key in a little to rotate it back.