good or bad interface design...

Hi, I’m doing a lecture next week on interface design and I wanted to ask what products have pissed you off with there poor interface and what product are masters of interface design…and why.

I was going to go some basic theroy then back it up with examples. Or do it the other why round show up the product open it up to the group to slate then drop in some theroy why its so bad to use.

for some inspiration look here: Good Design -

Okay, here are a bunch of leads for you:

Old standby case studies include the invention of the GUI, Palm, Tivo, iPod/iTunes.

Some others…

50,000 Americans die from medical error annually, including many from “death by decimal” in hospitals when nurses accidentally mis-program infusion pumps (one slip, and you’ve given a 10-fold overdose!) My company (Cardinal Health) makes “smart pumps” which put “guardrails” around that kind of slip.

The famous Florida Ballot design, which led people to unintentionally vote for the wrong candidate in the 2000 US presidential election.

There has been a lot of press about how difficult home entertainment systems are…

I also recall a study that showed how a huge percentage of wireless-routers were returned to the store after consumers couldn’t figure out how to set them up.

Motorola constantly gets slammed for their UI, and they’ve gotten press lately about their new easier to use UI (which I participated in.)

Hotel alarm clocks have gotten some press–and there’s been efforts to redesign them.

Kodak has been quite successful with their EasyShare digital cameras–they’re the only ones selling ease-of-use as a value.

The recent Sony PS3 vs. Wii is a great case study on how “fun” wins over “tech.”

The whole dot-bom phenomenon is littered with companies who succumbed to digital-darwinism, and poor-interface design was frequently their downfall (and why Amazon, Ebay, Google and others endured against numerous competitive threats.)

In the US, Intuit’s TurboTax software has totally disrupted the tax-prep business. They claim that more people now do thier own taxes using their “easy to use software” than go to all of the H&R Block (the biggest tax-prep franchise) combined.

The BMW iDrive has been repeatedly slammed in the press, and by Don Norman.

Microsoft recently killed “clippy” the social-interface agent from MS Office. They claim that their redesign is so easy to use, it’s eliminated the need. People hated Clippy almost as much as they hated Microsoft BOB.

Paper maps became disrupted by MapQuest, then later Google Maps and GPS for ease-of-use reasons.

The Apple Mag-Safe connector recognizes that tripping over power cords can be a bad thing.

Voice-recognition systems are replacing the old “press 1 for customer service” automated-telephone systems.

Well thats certainly a good start, cheers cg. I gave Don Norman a quick mail asking for his advice…and he e-mail back, what a nice chap.

I personally can’t stand samsung phones compared to Nokia’s interface they seem practically barmy!

the most notable example that i can think of is in gaming, particularly the case with the revolutionary design of the ps2 and the impact it has had on the next gen models. i would actually even place the success of the ps2 right along the ranks of apple’s ipod because all of the current next gen models have adopted the same physical elements and i don’t expect to see this trend to change drastically in the future.

are you referring to the software UI? I haven’t had a chance to play on a PS3 so not to sure what your referring to. Obvouisly the wii has to rule with its intuitive controller. For bad interface/useablity me and mate struggle for a while to get a 2nd controller working on the xbox…then hunting down in the instructions book how to set it up.

hmm. well i think i should’ve been clearer and more specific. the reason i mentioned the ps2 is probably rooted in my interest for gaming in general. i guess it just the first thing that really came to mind when thinking of “user/product relationship”. anyway, i wasn’t really referring to any specific GUI/OS design, even though you are right in many respects and good user interface is essential. rather, i was pointing at the grander, more abstract notion of “gaming experience” that the ps2 provided out of the box. The most obvious revolutionary feature offhand was the actual industrial design of the console, which was a much sleeker, more versatile, and highly sophisticated departure from anything prior. i know one could argue it’s significance purely on an aesthetic basis but i’d disagree since the design has been aped by the rest of the industry and i don’t see this changing anytime soon. if anything, the design was a culmination of what we already know in the history of technological innovations: things either get larger and larger or they get smaller and simpler. consumer electronics, muusic players, computers—all the same. there’s a simpsons quote where frink predicts that “within 100 years, computers will be twice as powerful, 10,000 times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them” which is hillarious because it’s so blatantly off. even the controller was so good and intuitive that sony kept it for it’s 3rd iteration and the same basic configuration has been applied by the rest of the industry (except with nintendo this latter round). actually, i liken it to the same qwerty configuration for computer keypads–do you think this will really change in our lifetime? i don’t think the basic, underlying experience will change dramatically if we look at how old typewriters are. in essence, what the ps2 brought to tthe table amongst these innovations is the first successfull implementation of a great pre-existing gaming library, significant leaps in next gen gaming, music playback, broadband, and dvd player—all in one box for a decent price. what ps2 offered was a multimedia interface that combined all the stuff we wanted (like with George with food and sex) and without having to haggle with the variability of the PC. the success of the ps2 was also aided by another notable example of user interface design: the advent of DVD. we love DVDs because of the interaction and access we have with our movies, something we really couldn’t do with vhs. anyway, that’s what i meant in my first post. :laughing:
but you know what though? now that i think about it, ps2 might not even be the best example for user interface design. you could even look at the innovations of nintendo in the wii as mentioned above or even the DS, which is incredibly successful. the gaming possibilities offered by a simple addition of a stylus within the user interface have been astonishing. you can do things like a crossword puzzle one day and then go and experience a dynamic, complex story in games like hotel dusk. it’s incredible. if you are going to mention gaming, i’d say talk about the DS and the success it has had compared to the PSP. you could also simply focus on the design elements of gaming experiences themselves, which, in my view, is the most interesting because it underscores a significant shift in our daily and social lives. i’m thinking of stuff relating to the internet, in social networking like digg or myspace, in software, in the open source movement, in the convergence of all these things and the impact it will have on us as a society as we keep democratizing info, narrow that digital divide, and creep forward to the inevitable star trek age that awaits us. if not you could talk about more mundane stuff. like heated toilet seats for people like me who don’t suffer cold climates gladly. i hope that helps!