Over Engineered to the Point of Confusion

Over Engineered

With good design, the user instinctively knows what to do next. Everything from a web app to a door handle. Pretty much everything we use. For example, when you see a tap you already know how to turn it on. All it needs is a twist.

If we use the conventions that have gone before, people will know what to do. It’s simple right?

Well, not quite.

For instance, what about innovation? Where does that fit in? How can we move forward if we rely on the rules that already exist? It’s a really difficult question but one way to answer it is to show you what not to do. Sometimes, in an attempt to break convention, to create something new, the designer gets it wrong. So wrong in fact that an action that used to be simple actually becomes more confusing then before. Regression in it’s truest sense.

Unwanted Innovation

Recently I was in a hotel bathroom and noticed this message above the sink.

Please Be Advised...

If a tap needs instructions so people know how to use it, then that’s a FAIL in my book. The tap problem was solved way back in the late 19th century. The original tap design works. People know how to use it. They don’t need instructions to figure it out.

Designing a tap that looks like a miniature hair dryer just confuses people.

Hairdryer Tap

Lets not over engineer things to the point of confusion. If the problem is solved, leave it alone. There are plenty of other problems out there just begging for our attention.


2 Comments added. Add comment?

  1. caelen says:

    When it comes to web design rarely do we actually want to build new function we just want to combine existing functions with established design patterns to a new purpose

    Mar 24, 2009
  2. Iarfhlaith says:

    Hey Caelen, couldn’t agree more.

    Mar 24, 2009

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