Acceptance of Bad Design

Human technology progresses faster than the capacity of physiological evolution to adapt. Even if our brain has the faculty to mentally adjust thinking processes to deal with technological advances, our physical bodies may not catch up so easily.

Consider a theory of evolution which suggests that genetic mutations are move slowly across individuals throughout the lifespan of a species’ existence. In the span of a few centuries, people have increased their travel speed by nearly 900 times (horse-riding vs. commercial airliner) and improved language transfer speed by 4-5 million times (sailing half-way around the world to deliver a message vs. broadband networking), but they remain largely at the same height and have the same size hands and fingers.

It is no wonder that bad design exists throughout our civilizations – people simply haven’t adapted to the ability to make something unusable. And because of technological advances, we may never get a chance to anyways. So what can we do about bad design?

For starters, two things:

  1. Break away from conditioning
  2. Spread the knowledge

Break away from conditioning – believe it or not, for the most part you know your own physiology better than anyone else. If it feels wrong, you can feel it faster than anyone else. People should get used to avoiding bad design right away. Bad designs that affect large portions of the population tend to be reinforced by collective conformity. At the very least, you should consider alternative methods of interaction when confronted with poorly constructed objects.

Spread the knowledge – when something is not right, let other people know! Information transfer is faster than ever, and chances are that something that seems poorly designed to you is also perceived to be a poor design by other people.

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