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10 UX Fixes For Everyday Objects

Written by Cory Healy on March 14, 2017

UX design is a wonderful thing to have for online applications. Offline, there’s a lot of everyday objects that we interact with that could use a major UX facelift.

Here are 10 things to get you thinking about UX principles in real-life:

1. Windows

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to open and close a window without knowing if it already locked or unlocked. Toggling the levers to get it to open, or even having to pop it back into place on the track is a huge pain! A better fix for windows would be to have the locking mechanism built into the track rather than expect the top and bottom parts of the window to lock-in together.

2. Doors

Do you hate public doors? I do, and so does Don Norman. Described as Norman Doors, doors out in the wild often have handles that make it difficult for people to know whether to push or pull. The “solution” some buildings implement is to add a sign that says “push” or “pull” but you’ll most likely ignore the sign and assume you need to pull when instead you’ve needed to push all along! A huge thing about implementing better UX is guessing how a user would reflexively use the object without having to think about it. Usage, in general, should take up no time in determining how to use a product.

3. Dish racks

I used to have a grand view of what it meant to be rich. Fast forward to living in New York City for almost 4 years, I firmly believe that fully-achieved royalty is when your apartment has a) proximity to an indoor trash chute and b) a dishwasher. Since I am not #blessed with a dishwasher, I have a dish rack, and boy does that need a better user experience. It’s a catch-all for everything, yet assumes that everything you want to wash and dry is just plates–not pots, pans, sauce pans, assorted knives, or cleavers. A better solution would be different sized slots in the rack that accommodate larger objects so that you don’t end up with a mountain of clean dishes you have to stack on top of one another.

4. Remotes

So. Many. Buttons. Do you even use half of them? I’m sure some do, but perhaps a better design for the general thumb-jamming experience would be beneficial. Mainly fewer button options and more shortcuts with a television much like Apple TV.

5. Dog bag holders

I love dogs and walking dogs. Whoever invented the doggy bag holder that attaches to a leash had great intentions, but more often than not it’s a pain in the rear to get them out. The goal was to be able to dispense dog bags one at a time through a rubber choker, but most of the time I’m stuck digging out the bag while my dog’s poop sits there on the sidewalk. A better fix would be to keep the bags on a roll and close up the capsule after tearing out the bag you need.

6. Shoe racks

If you have a large personal collection of shoes or bought a shoe rack for the entire apartment in a (vain) attempt to control how many freaking shoes are at the door, then you know what I’m about to say. Shoe racks are great for about a week, then they turn into a place to just throw your shoes about—a size 7 next to a size 15 and ½ a winter boot stuffed in. There’s no order. No priority. No room for different shoe types and sizes! Sad!

7. Shower knobs

You ever stay over at someone else’s house and are absolutely flabbergasted as to how to work their shower? There are so many variations on how to get hot and cold water. Some have one universal knob; others have two; some even have four freaking knobs for two settings of water! By the time I get the water going to the proper temperature for my body, I’ve already used up $595 worth of water. Not my water bill, not my problem. Blame it on the UX.

8. Knife blocks

Knife blocks are cool and aesthetically pleasing. The biggest problem I have with them is that I don’t know where to put the knives half of the time! They’re supposed to be arranged in a particular order but the design is a recipe for anarchy and not caring where it ends up. Most of the smaller knives will end up in your kitchen drawer anyway. At least they’ll be away from all the germs and fungus incubating in the IKEA woodblock slats.

9. Trash cans

Why on earth would you create a contraption that, in the name of getting rid of waste, gets nasty on the inside and outside in the process? Conventional trash cans are only an invitation to get full and have the lids covered in a filth-film and the insides flooded with wayward gunk. It almost defeats the purpose of cleaner living and invites you to be wasteful with your waste, instead of containing it in a clean manner that makes your apartment livable and breathable. Or maybe I'm just lazy and don’t take out the trash as often as I need to. Let’s blame the UX on this one.

10. Wine bottle openers

How many times have you tried to open a bottle of wine only to have your wine bottle opener break in the process! Of course, there are different models that make it easier, but the standard (read: cheap, accessible at the bodega/corner store at 3 a.m.) is the two-fold with the small knife at the other that was added for god-knows-what purpose. A better user experience here would be one that doesn’t break so easily.

Want to learn more about user interface and user experience? Check out our upcoming full-time and part-time courses. Our Amsterdam campus now offers a UI/UX Intensive too!