Tag Archives: bad usability

Human Proof Design

Human proof design is design that prevents people from successful using the item.

cover of book, Design of Everyday Things

It is similar to mistake proofing except instead of prevent mistakes it prevents people from using it.

When you see human proof design you will often see signs to tell people how to use the device that has been human proofed. Common instances of this are hotels that have shower designs so opaque they need instructions on how to use a device most people have no problem using if they are not human proofed.

Human proof design is often created by a subset of designers that care about how something looks more than how it is used.

Most people prefer designs that are beautiful without being human proofed. The Design of Everyday Things is a great book on designing beautifully with customer focus.

A sign your design is human proofed is that a sign or manual is needed for people to use it.

Most human proof design can be identified very simply by having regular people try to use the item. Watch what they do and when they struggle to use it, many problems will be very obvious. You can’t use people in this effort that are significantly different from the normal users.

In several areas I see these failures quite often. Hotel rooms are a common source of problems. The light switches are often very odd and I have to search all over to find out how to turn on or off different lights.

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Management Blog Posts From June 2005

Here are the blog posts from 3 years ago this month on the Curious Cat Management Improvement blog: From Mechanistic to Social Systemic ThinkingTargets Distorting the SystemDilbert and Deming.

The Dilbert site has learned to take advantage of the web and allow embedding of the strips on blogs and web pages. Good for them, but you really would have thought they would have lead this trend not delayed so long.

[Was displaying Dilbert strip from 21 January 1997 before pointy haired boss broke their service]

Update: Oh and now they seem to have broken the service. Not really a surprise if you figure the people managing Dilbert apply the pointy haired boss’ ideas to help them manage. Sigh. Scott Adams is not in any danger or running out to management lameness to ridicule.

Planet Kaizen


Toyota has a section on their web site called Planet Kaizen [the broken link to www.toyota.com/planetkaizen was removed, this is a rare instance where they are doing us a favor by removing this poorly designed application from the internet]: “what happens when you dig a little deeper and peel back the sheet metal to discover what makes a Toyota a Toyota.”

It requires Flash to view Planet Kaizen. I think it has amazingly bad visual controls (as do many flash applications). I can’t figure out why it would be done in flash – other than some marketing person, or IT person, thought it would be cool. I certainly don’t see how kaizen practices could have produced such an application. It seems to me one of the examples of how far Toyota still has to go.

Of course, as an automobile manufacturer failing to develop web applications well, is better than failing at manufacturing cars well. I would guess that this “planet kaizen” was not created by Toyota employees but instead outsourced to someone else. If it was done internally, I think Toyota’s management of marketing with technology may be in as much need of help as GM’s entire management is. In any case the non-manufacturing parts of Toyota, while some are managed well, still have plenty of room to improve.

BetterProcess Podcasts and Blog

Edited to correct links – people involved with web content really need to learn that pages must live forever. They broke them again, so I gave up trying to make up for their failure to follow good management processes.

BetterProcess Podcast and Blog [I removed the broken link]

I found a new source of podcasts [I removed the broken link] focused on manufacturing, charting, use of data and the like. Yesterday I wrote about the potential for webinars and last week I wrote about the value of podcasts to the transfer of management improvement knowledge. The biggest problem right now is finding management improvement podcasts so I am glad to find another source of podcasts on management improvement topics.

Topics of the podcasts include: Pareto charting, P-charting, Six Sigma (Measurement System Analysis) and manufacturing news.

All the podcasts end with a musical selection. This new technology allows individuals to create what they want. So we get a much more personal creations than were common in the past. I can’t imagine many video training sessions each ending in a musical selection. It also is made possible by thinking like that of the creative commons license (that allowing more use of your content may actual be wiser, in some cases, than prohibiting any use of content that you own).

The most recent podcast is part 2 of 2 (and the 12th podcast overall): Broken link an interview with Andy Sleeper a Master Black Belt discussing Measurement System Analysis.