I am still always amazed about how many things are poorly designed.

This must mostly come about from disregard of several key design principles such as knowledge of how the product is to be used, having no easy way to get user feedback and from simply never trying the final product out.

Take the example of on/off switches/buttons.  Here we have one example of good design and two of bad design:

The poor design of these can be catastrophic in the worst case – in this case you really need the item, you will turn it on and find the batteries are dead.

The problem is that these devices are never carried or stored out in the open, they are always in some pack or pocket somewhere.  In the poorly designed models, a simple, accidental nudge or pressure from some other object in the pack or pocket will turn the device on.

The device on the right has a slider type of button, which takes a fair amount of pressure to slide, and has never accidentally turned on after years in a packpack.  The two on the left have easy access push buttons and numerous times both have completely dead batteries, despite putting in new batteries a day earlier.

There are work arounds such as custom made hard protective packs, or only putting in the batteries before using, but the real solution is simply a well designed and functioning on/off button!

General Design Principles/Checklist (for architecture, cities, products, etc.)

 – typical and extreme weather expected – how to protect from wind, rain, sun, snow, or take advantage of these elements as needed

 – accessibility for young and old, tall and short, skinny and fat, with bulky gloves on
 – with accessories of strollers, suitcases, bicycles, skis
 – tourists with different languages, people that are color blind, wheelchairs
 – (can mean to design with no stairs, short walking distances, big buttons, buttons low, bigger writing, loud volume control, etc.)

Lifecycle – easy/economy/ecology of
 – construction
 – energy consumption
 – maintenance, cleaning
 – destruction/recycling

 Specific Design Requirements

 – walkable, bikeable design

Digital Cameras
 – there are hundreds of identical pocket cameras with 35mm to 100mm zoom out there, all in a race for more megapixels – USELESS!
 – provide more wide angle cameras (24-28mm wide), and battle for faster speeds and better quality photos (exposure, color, sharpness, noise – not megapixels!)
 – more weatherproof/durable camera bodies, with longer power and standard batteries (not megapixels!)
 – make the movie modes as good or better than camcorders (no purple effects from sun/reflections)

Mobile Phones
 – non-standard phone pad layouts are USELESS!
 – mini full keyboards are too rare, and usually unusable – try looking at earlier model blackberry’s or various cheap electronic organizer/dictionaries for good examples
 – how about a feature on the phone to switch from loud to silent profiles automatically, with easy override (Mon-Fri 8:00-12:00, 13:00-17:00 silent mode on by default)  at least on a Siemens and Nokia E61 ‘business phone’ I haven’t seen this and it would be an obvious, easy, useful feature.
 – use big fonts with phone numbers displayed, most phones I see tend to switch to smaller fonts for numbers.

 – hand-held small ones, why not add a hidden number keypad like on phones to make easy and quick coordinate entry
 – big buttons for use with gloves

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