In case you all didn’t know, I travel a lot. In my day job, I’m a User Experience guy, and that never quite switches off. It’s my job to make products clear, empowering and delightful.
- Clear: Users can correctly intuit what to do with the system.
- Empowering: The system serves the reasonable needs of the users in a naturalistic way.
- Delightful: The system delivers unexpected delight.
I’ve discovered in my travels that, aside from forks, knives and spoons, most of our everyday objects are poorly designed. It’s almost like the manufacturers have no idea what it’s like to actually live with their products.
The humble shower faucet has more bad variations on this theme than anything else, and I’ve become a little obsessed because they’re non-electronic systems that totally suck. A shower is a two-dimensional interface (pressure/temperature), and in theory, it should be simple, right?
Have a look at some of my favorites.
Mental model mismatch: the system appears to be using one control methodology, but is using another.
Incorrect status indication.
Instructions unclear. The first shower I have seen with poor documentation.
False signifiers: looks like one thing, does another.
Poor signifiers and bad placement.
This is by far the worst one I’ve seen.
Here’s a shower that you can never quite switch off.
Also, you’re doing a terrible job with coathooks.
Also, check out this article for 10 usability principles to follow when you design.