A few years ago, I bought a book called “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman. I can’t quite remember what drove me to buy it – probably a good review or an Amazon recommendation – but one thing that is for certain is that it has had a profound and lasting impact on me. Each time I encounter a poorly designed object or system, I wonder whether it would have made the cut as a great example for a Ugandan version of the book. Few books have influenced the way I look at everyday things like this one. It has also had a huge influence on how I go about the design decisions I encounter in my day-to-day work. I whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in anything to do with the design of interfaces and products meant for human use even though it is quite old now and a lot of the real-life examples presented are now obsolete (pre-cellular telephone systems, car dashboard controls etc). The principles presented are the most important part of the book and they are truly timeless.
As a tribute to this excellent book and to express my frustration at the fact that bad design seems to be as enduring as good design principles, I have decided to write a series about the poor designs that I have come across as a Ugandan living in Kampala. Some of the designs I’ll talk about are indigenous in nature while others are of foreign made products that happen to be used widely here. Each weekly post will focus on a single item and I’ll explain why I consider it to be an example of poor design. I also invite you to join in via comments and the Twitter hashtag #DOEUT – share your “lousy design frustrations” and let’s see if we can get those responsible to revisit their creations.