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I see bad design, poor usabilty and ignored natural human behaviour.

This is Eel Brook Common. When the bus is moving too slowly I hop off and take a short cut through the park. I notice this bit of the park and immediately see the design fault.

The original intent of me taking this photo was to highlight poor design. However I thought I'd post the picture first and see if anyone else sees it too.

This in itself is probably more interesting than the deign flaw I wanted to highlight. People's responses ranged from humorous, to poetic, to philosophical, to visual. I don't actually think anybody's comments where wrong.

However, in seeing what I saw ...

Gordon [C1] actually got it right off the bat. Dan [C8] figured out what I was alluding too by my category (I wondered if anyone would). David [C13] was spot on and saw it as I did as did Craig [C20].

It's poor design. So poor in fact people have found a way to route past it (literally in fact)

When something stands between your users and their goals, one of two things typically happens. If they truly wish to accomplish their goal with your site, they will perceive a new feature on your site as damage, they will find a way to route around that damage. If they are ambivalent about you or know of an alternative, they will just leave. Veen

I'm sure the original park designers thought the curve at the end would look attractive. But what they didn't think was that people always take the shorter routes. That at the point the two paths near each other, people wil switch paths. And not just one person, but enough people to wear down the grass and form an new path, albeit one that is not tarmac.

I always say, get form to follow function. When function follows form, this will inevitably break as people try reassert the most efficient function. All the design need was to lay the paths out and have a short path joining the two longer winding paths.

This is one of the biggest problems with web design today. I'm guilty of it. It's thinking you can force users into a pattern of usage that you want, instead of what they want.

The best designers don't do this. They are smart enough to see the paths people will walk before they lay the tarmac.


10 Nov, '04 12:28 PM

1. Gordon

I WON!!!! What’s the prize!!! WOOO HOOOO!!

10 Nov, '04 12:40 PM

2. Adrian

I don’t recall any mention of a price.

I also said, that no answers were wrong.

There’s a actually a town planning term to describe a route that people choose to take which bears no correlation to the designated one provided - desire path.

10 Nov, '04 1:46 PM

4. matthew

I have a desire path. I don’t think it’s the same as the one described above though. AHEM

10 Nov, '04 3:39 PM

5. Tyrannize

I still see breasts

10 Nov, '04 3:44 PM

6. Adrian

You always see breasts …

10 Nov, '04 8:00 PM

7. stroppycow

Good one. Will you post more instances of bad design ?

10 Nov, '04 8:10 PM

8. Adrian

I will do if I see it, which I am sure I will.

24 Mar, '09 3:20 AM

9. joe

i like this. i really like things like this.

i see poor design all around me, in everything. in fact, it is one of my peeves in life. didnt the designers give it one iota of thought before they started production?

i see it in everything from vacuum cleaners to public restrooms to web apps.

anyway, thanks for posting. my first two thoughts on it were

1.) the inefficiency of having two paths right next to each other, both serving the same function (and i’m assuming there probably is never so much traffic that it is necessary to have two lanes)


2.) the poor design of it, in that it was necessary for people to create their own path.




    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Adrian published on November 10, 2004 12:06 PM.

    What do you see in this picture? was the previous entry in this blog.

    I'd rather buy a stripper a drink is the next entry in this blog.

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