Intelligent Design? Yes, Please


I’m not a fan of teaching creationism in the classroom, but it’s clear we could all use a bit more intelligent design in our daily lives.

I say this because I’m convinced that product designers never actually use the things they invent; if they did, they’d hurry back to the drawing board.

Consider, as a first example, the standard shopping cart (trolley). Most carts come with convenient seats for your toddler, and they’re set up well enough so that they won’t tip if you put your child in when the cart’s empty. They come complete with leg holes, and sometimes even wee seat belts. But for a reason I have yet to fathom, the default position for the little plastic seat/flap is ‘up.’ What’s worse, the plastic flaps are usually spring loaded, so they don’t stay down.

This means you’ve two options when trying to put your child in the cart:

1) Hold him high enough above the seat that you can use his toes to wedge the seat down while lowering him in. This assumes you can lift a squirming 25 lb. toddler up that high, and that he doesn’t accidentally kick your nose. It’s fun attempting this while your eyes are streaming, the cart is rolling forward, and your purse is sliding down your arm.
2) Use one arm to hold the seat down while trying to heave your child into the seat with your other arm. My son was far too picky for this maneuver; he refused to tour the grocery store upside down.

Speaking of grocery stores, I would like to suggest an international conference to establish Food Filing Standards. At the moment, Store A in my city thinks that curry paste belongs in the International Food aisle. Store B believes that curry paste is an Oriental Food, and shelves it there. Store C, where the staff clearly have never enjoyed a decent lamb bhuna, puts it in the… gravy section. Serves me right, I suppose, for shopping at stores named A, B, and C.

Coffee pots could also use a design makeover. We own a percolator, and in order to make a pot of coffee, you have to: Try to find the six cup line, which is poorly marked and in an awkward place relative to the pot handle; insert the tube which draws water to the coffee basket; thread the basket onto the tube; count the right number of spoons of coffee into the basket; remember to put the lid on the basket; put the lid on the pot; and finally turn it on.

Big deal you say? Remember that you have to do this first thing in the morning *before you’ve had any coffee.* Miscount the coffee spoons, and you end up with either brown dishwater or crude oil. Forget the basket lid and you have to chew your coffee. Forget the pot lid, and, well… let’s just say coffee fountains are not pretty.

And talking of not pretty, does anyone remember the Sony CD fiasco? In case you missed it, it was revealed that Sony hid some software on many of its music CDs. The software was designed to prevent people from copying the music with their computer. I can only imagine how this decision came about:

EXECUTIVE ONE: Gentlemen! We have to do something to protect our copyright. We must stop people from copying and distributing our music without our permission.
EXECUTIVE TWO: I know! Let’s hide some software on our CDs and install it on their computers without their permission!
EXEC ONE: Brilliant! And let’s design it so badly that hackers will be able to exploit it to spread computer viruses and spam.
EXEC TWO: Let’s get to it!

Let’s not forget appliances that don’t shut down when you press the Power button, pop can tabs that break fingernails when you try to use them, and laser printers that regard your instruction to print out an important presentation as license to make an origami swan.

I’d go on, but I’m running out of space.

Clearly, that’s a blog design flaw.

Photo Credit: ErikaWittlieb / Pixabay

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