Train Trek Reveals Design No-No’s
Design inspiration is everywhere.
When volcanic ash felled his flight plans, Rich Baldry, a Product Manager at Sophos caught a sleeper train to Holland. In transit, a rude awakening, uncovered unexpected lessons in product design.
Baldry awoke to the rattle of a sleeper-car cohabitant, trying to get out of the compartment. This tired guy was unaware that the door had been locked the night before by Baldry. The lock, a small, unmarked lever over the door, was the solution to the exit issue.
Baldry noted that a lack of proper documentation (signage) and poor placement turned the obscure looking lock into a user nightmare. Baldry, who is tasked with creating user-friendly, simple, easy to manage products for Sophos, suggests that the poorly designed lock is a perfect metaphor for what “not” to do when designing products.
When designing a product, the controls should be easily discoverable and their function obvious. This sleeper train lesson should remind us all that bad design causes stress, inconvenience, and wastes time and money.