The Thoughtless Design of Everyday Things

The Thoughtless Design of Everyday Things

by Karl Wiegers PhD
The Thoughtless Design of Everyday Things

The Thoughtless Design of Everyday Things

by Karl Wiegers PhD


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Have you ever noticed how many products appear to be designed by someone who has never used a product of that kind before? Nearly everyone has encountered websites, software apps, cars, appliances, and other products that made them wonder what the designers were thinking. The Thoughtless Design of Everyday Things presents more than 150 examples of products that violate nine fundamental design principles, along with suggestions for improving many of the flawed user interfaces and other design problems. These examples of thoughtless design reveal 70 specific lessons that designers ought to heed as they craft the user experience. This book describes numerous specific practices for enhancing product usability through usage-centered design strategies. You’ll also see more than 40 products that exhibit particularly thoughtful designs, the kinds of products that surprise and delight users. Whether you're a designer, a product development manager, or a thoughtful and curious consumer, you'll find The Thoughtless Design of Everyday Things engaging, informative, and insightful.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604271782
Publisher: Ross, J. Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/16/2021
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Since 1997, Karl Wiegers has been Principal Consultant with Process Impact, a software development consulting and training company in Happy Valley, Oregon. Karl is the author of Successful Business Analysis Consulting, Software Requirements, More About Software Requirements, Practical Project Initiation, and Creating a Software Engineering Culture. He received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Illinois. During the past 50 years, he has designed chemistry experiments, software applications and user interfaces, software development processes, books, games, and training courses.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

About the Author xv

WAV™ page xvii

Chapter 1 Thoughtless Design 1

Thoughtful and Thoughtless Design 1

About This Book 4

A Thoughtless Design Case Study: The Sponge Mop 5

The Crap Gap 7

Consumers and Their Requirements 8

Is It Really a Design Problem? 10

Some Terminology Conventions 11

A Key Assumption 12

Looking Ahead 14

Chapter 2 Why Design Is Hard 15

What Is Design? 15

Where Designs Come From 16

Three Critical Contributors to Design Success 19

Design Is a Balancing Act 22

Stakeholders 22

Design-For Attributes 24

Usability Design 27

The Profit Perspective 30

Some Symptoms of Thoughtless Design 31

During Prototype and Usability Evaluations 31

After Delivery 31

Chapter 3 Make the Product Easy and Obvious to Use 33

Signifiers 35

I Just Wanted to Take a Shower 38

Intuitive to Whom? 39

Thoughtful Design: Google Translate 43

No Surprises! 44

What Is It with Cars? 46

Two Laws of Computing 51

When All Else Fails, Read the Instructions 53

Be Accurate and Specific 55

Language Lessons 55

Size Matters 56

Thoughtful Design: Avocado Slicer 57

Chapter 4 Consider Realistic Usage Scenarios 59

Around the House 60

In the Bathroom 60

In the Kitchen 61

In the Closet 63

In the Wine Cellar 64

In Physical Therapy 65

Thoughtful Design: Japanese Garden Knife 66

Thoughtful Design: Vacuum Cleaner Floor Brush 67

A Twenty-Year Annoyance-and Counting 69

Software Silliness 70

Thoughtful Design: Contacts App 73

Hardware Problems, Too 74

Bad Actors and Dangerous Actions 77

Accident 78

Malice 78

Stupidity 79

Chapter 5 Consider a Wide Range of Usage Environments 83

Understand the User's World 84

One More Time with the Cars 86

Less Than Ideal Conditions 88

Computer Environments 90

Thoughtful Design: Night Modes on Portable Devices 92

Chapter 6 Make It Hard to Make a Mistake 93

To Err Is Way Too Human 94

Make Mistakes Impossible 96

With Software 96

With Physical Objects 98

Thoughtful Design: 3D Motion Model 101

Thoughtful Design: Garden Hose Sprayer 102

Make Mistakes Difficult 103

Make Recovery Easy 109

The Case of the Mysterious Error Message 109

The Case of the Forced Completion 110

The Case of the Inactive Function 113

Just Let It Happen 115

Of Course, Cars Again 115

In the Optometrist's Exam Room 119

Chapter 7 Provide Meaningful Feedback 121

Make Feedback Immediate 124

Make Feedback Informative 125

Make Feedback Necessary 126

Make Feedback Clear 127

Make Feedback Actionable 132

Make Feedback Persistent 137

Make Feedback Polite 139

Chapter 8 Don't Waste the User's Time 141

Hidden Options 141

Excessive Actions 145

You Can't Get There from Here 149

Excessive Complexity 149

I Just Want to Be Warmer 150

Has Anyone Seen the Remote? 151

Overwhelming Functionality 155

Obscure Operations 157

Things That Just Don't Work 159

Thoughtful Design: Time Savers 161

Chapter 9 Design for the User's Convenience 163

In the Bathroom 164

You Knew There Would Be Cars 165

On the Computer 168

Customization 168

Disappearing Functionality 169

Computers Should Work for Us 170

Inconvenience Is All Around Us 171

Voicemail 171

Musically Speaking 173

At the Supermarket 175

Digital Is Not Always Better 177

Packaging Fails 180

Thoughtful Design: For the User's Convenience 185

Deliberately Devious Design 190

Chapter 10 Accommodate the Range of Human Variation 195

The Breadth of Human Diversity 196

Accessibility 199

Ergonomics 202

Thoughtful Design for All 207

Chapter 11 Place the Minimum Mental Burden on the User 209

What Does This Mean? 209

Confusing Controls 211

Concealed Capabilities 214

Consistency Is a Virtue 215

It's Only Logical 222

Thoughtful Design: Home-Use EKG 226

Thoughtful Design: Restore iPhone from Backup 228

Wrapping Up 229

Chapter 12 Practices for Thoughtful Design 231

Customer Engagement 231

Product Champions 232

Focus Groups 234

Personas 235

Usage-Centered Design 237

Systems Thinking 239

Prototyping 241

Iterative Improvement 242

Tips for Successful Prototyping 244

Usability Testing 246

Reflection and Learning 248

Retrospectives 249

Customer Feedback 250

Keep the Focus on Usage 251

Your Turn Now 254

Appendix: Summary of Design Lessons 255

References 261

Index 267

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