April 03, 2014

Clever design vs good design.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed last night, I saw this post – 30 Relatively Simple Things That Will Make Your Home Extremely Awesome. And I really don't want to be a troll, but, as a user experience professional, I couldn't help thinking about how these "improvements" would work in a real home environment.

1. Add outlets to drawers to keep clutter off of the table top.
Umm – and the cords go where? And how often would you run into the drawer while something is plugged in?

11. Buy a toilet seat where everyone can have their own tab.
I have to assume this is a joke. Instead of cleaning one toilet seat, you can clean four! Yaaaay!

16. Install your outlets underneath your cabinets so you don’t ruin your backsplash.
Again – a cord hanging in midair is better? Wouldn't a better wall solution be more usable?

20. Instead of bunk beds, install classy murphy beds for your kids.
For a tiny space where kids need to play and sleep, this might make sense. Or if you have one child and want a nice guest bed, a murphy bed could be a great addition. But in a normal room, how often would these actually be folded up? And kid's spaces are very important to them – what message does this send about their space in your life?

Okay. To be fair, there are some viable design solutions in the post as well.

A sun tunnel for dark rooms? So cool. Stainless steel contact paper for appliances? I had no idea this even existed.

I can't help thinking, though, that a lot of these solutions are for very Type A people who can't stand clutter and probably don't need anyone to tell them to put away what they don't want to see.

A good design – vs a clever design – takes into account the context and circumstances in which it will be used. If you want to design your home to meet your needs, be honest about what you need and what design can do to make your life easier or address the things that drive you crazy. If you hate outlets and cords, find a way to cover them or hide them in a wall. If you hate clutter in your child's room, find better storage solutions so you can quickly toss their toys in a bin or a closet. Or it's time to simply accept that you have a child. Kids are messy.

And, finally – if you are so worried about your family's germs getting on your bum – well, chances are your problem is bigger than your toilet seat.


Amazing Oasis: Here Are 30 Relatively Simple Things That Will Make Your Home Extremely Awesome


Ari said...

THANK YOU. I felt similarly about many of the suggestions when I saw this same list floating around Facebook.

While I too assume that the toilet seat thing is a joke, I can kiiiiind of see the short-term usefulness--I have two kids potty training, and the alternatives for small kids are generally kind of cumbersome (and usually have to be dismantled for regular toilet use, and oh my God it's such a pain). Having a built-in option for small butts would actually save me a lot of work, even if it meant more cleaning.

I'm not sure in what universe I would need four different settings, though.

bb said...

Thanks, Ari! I hadn't even thought about the toilet seats being different sizes, not just duplicates of one another. Now THAT makes sense.