It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light.
Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Watson, Hound of the Baskervilles, Chapter 1
Important note and disclaimer:
The listing of any company or product here is not to imply that the company produces an inferior product or service. No company (and no individual) does everything right. These examples are presented for educational purposes,
pointing out things that could be done better, to help you create a better product or service.
As Watson is to Holmes, the hope is that these examples will illuminate the better path for you.
Audible.com: How to maximize user-unfriendliness in a software package. Audible.com provides a great service for audio books, audio newspapers, and the like, but now I know exactly how Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice felt.
Excel: Software is a means, not an end. A tool to help get something done, but sometimes it just wants to give you the chance to help it instead.
FloppyBoot: Sometimes software is able to hide any possible clue as to what you are supposed to do next. Microsoft Corporation is no stranger to arcane messages, but when booting Windows one day I felt a tremendous sense of loss over something I didn't even know I had.
Internet Explorer: When giving information to millions of people (conceivably even billions of people), proofreading can help one's image. Microsoft Corporation makes the predominant browser of last century and this century (so far). Just goes to show that anyone can be ungrammatical.
Zip Disk: Sometimes design choices by the manufacturer are not reasonable to the customer. Iomega Corporation makes the ubiquitous Zip drive, a tool whose claim to fame is portable storage. 'Portable', however, is in the eye of the beholder.
Lotus123: The first thing one sees each time one launches a program should not be a constant reminder of a poor design choice. Lotus Development Corp., as one of the lasting software companies, deserves praise. Perhaps, though, someone could have looked at the opening screen.
System Restore: Error messages that state the obvious--particularly for important tasks--show that software usability still has room for improvement.
TurboTax: Reporting an error should give some clue of the problem to the user receiving the report. Quicken (the company) helps people with their finances in general and with their taxes. But sometimes just a bit more clarity is required.
Borders' Borders: Deploying a web application is so easy on one hand, but making sure it actually works for all reasonable configurations can be quite a challenge.
Brainbench: A quiz question on the English language should not have an error in English. Brainbench.com provides skill certifications, quite useful in job hunting. But they occasionally earn a demerit of their own...
Foliofn: How much do you trust a piece of software? Here's an example of a transaction with some financial impact that you must take a bit on faith.
KLA Calendar: Presenting incorrect facts is generally worse than presenting no information.
LeggMason: Inconsistencies can creep in through upgrades, as in the PetSmart article, or through unanticipated data combinations, as evidenced here.
Morgan Stanley Login: Good design makes it easier for a customer to accomplish a task--a simple design principle that is easy to overlook.
PetSmart: Programs are (usually) not designed with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing; they're simply upgraded to that state.
Sonoco: Web publishing is so easy that everyone is doing it. Keeping things up-to-date, however, is not so trivial.
Toshiba: Error handling often gets minimal resources and yet is when the user may need help the most.
Wall Street Journal: The most venerable of newspaper publishers can, of course, make mistakes too. But a modicum of checking should catch the most prominent ones.
Writing Guideline: Clear, accurate communication is one of the key goals of the CleanCode web site. This excerpt from an internal corporate web site whose sole purpose is provide guidelines for creating clean and clear web pages, is quite ironic.
AlaskaAir: Even when trying to communicate, it is easy not to communicate. Alaska Airlines has first-rate air service, but it is one company among many that could try a bit harder.
Auto-email: Quality assurance deficiencies tend to show up in the most visible/inconvenient spots.
HP Ad Campaign: When creating an advertisement to sell image, one sometimes needs to look in a mirror.
JustJuice: Marketing, contrary to the beliefs of some in the technical community, should have considerable importance in product design. But so should professional designers. Just Juice produces excellent fruit juice south of the border (the equator that is). Their packaging, however, could use just a little work.
Lexmark Printer: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link; the same goes for a product's image in spades. Lexmark Corporation a leading printer manufacturer, might consider using their own products more judiciously.
Schwab: The reason most businesses are in business is to service customers; usually this means attempting to make things simpler or convenient for customers, but not always.
Elevator: Designing a user interface that is counter-intuitive is not exclusive to the software field. The State Library of Tasmania updated their directory signage recently. Too bad it came out backwards.