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11 Terrible Designs in Everyday Objects

  • Jan 12, 2011
Good design is rare and a work of art. Bad design is a pain in the ass and it's all around us. Presenting 11 terrible designs hiding in everyday objects...
Caps Lock key
Caps Lock is the Joe Biden of the keyboard: it's generally believed to be needed, but screws everything up when it tries to do anything.

There's no need for Caps Lock. When used unintentionally, it tends to wreak havoc on passwords and get you locked out of websites; when used intentionally, IT MAKES PEOPLE SHOUT ANNOYINGLY or worse still lOOK lIKE cAPTALIZATION hAS gONE wRONG.

I propose ripping off it's plastic lid or - less violently - using the little CapsLock Be Gone application that disables it forever.
Toilet roll holder
This is the only acceptable design for a toilet roll holder:

It works beautifully. To insert a new roll, you simply align the hole in the roll with the pointy thing on the holder.

To remove, you slide off the empty cardboard tube straight into the trash can.

Conversely, the more popular design is a bathroom abomination:

This needlessly over-engineered device has springs and all manner of insanity, meaning that 99% of users will simply rest the toilet roll on top.
Comet is a very effective bleach cleanser.

So effective that when you accidentally knock it over due to its amazingly-obvious design defect, you can turn your carpets white. You'd think it would be a Federal law that all extremely dangerous chemicals have a lid...

Clamshell Packaging
So clam-shell packaging is the stuff that retailers use to protect "high value" inventory items, like razors, DVDs, batteries - or practically anything actually - from what they euphemistically call "shrinkage".

While it's understandable for "loss prevention", it also seems somewhat unacceptable that I should need a box cutter whenever I buy an SD card, and a pile of bandages for the inevitable injuries that follow.

Illy cups
Illy makes great coffee and sexy-looking coffee machines. They also make a nice range of logo-emblazoned cups that are supposed to add to the experience.

Unfortunately, the Illy cup design has a circular handle the size of your forefinger, which causes the user to get burned multiple times upon usage. Specifically:

- If your finger is wet, the cup rotates while carrying, causing hot liquid to escape all over your hands.

- As you are getting burned the first time, any reaction causes more liquid to leak, and progressively more burns.

Bad design.

Infrared toilet flushers
Commonly seen at airports and a growing number of public facilities, these devices have the laudable purpose of cleaning the toilet bowl when the average, lazy, voting-card-carrying citizen can't be bothered.

Presumably, the configuration of these things must be Ph.D.-level complicated, since most are programmed to activate exactly when you're comfortably positioned on the throne. Timing, as they say, is everything.

FrancisFrancis! x5
For the unfamiliar, this is an espresso machine without a single label on any of the buttons, levers, knobs or other operational elements. As an added bonus, it also features two lights without labels, thus operating more like a computer from some 1960s TV show. It's a totally mystery how this thing works.

Gas cap
Among many of the issues that billions of humans haven't been able to agree upon, the "which side is the gas cap?" conundrum continue to haunt drivers across the world. Manufacturers have been unable to decide upon whether the left or right side is optimal, and I certainly don't want to enter the debate.

But wouldn't it be nice if every car on the road had the little triangle thingy on the fuel gage that at least gave us all a head start on where to look. Instead, I end up getting it wrong about 50% of the time.

Canned goods
Amazingly, the engineers in the food storage business clearly have lower GPAs than the same guys in the soda industry. The food guys continue to think that this is a great design for a can:

Apparently, it's all part of the fun to require a can opener to make razor-sharp jagged lids just to reach $1 of beans. Meanwhile, there are a few people who escaped the soda business and brought over their can-opening innovations that made the whole thing much simpler and less dangerous.

TV remote control
This is what I have to navigate to watch HBO:

Seriously, I've been on aircraft where the pilot has fewer buttons. This actually looks simpler than it is, too, since I first have to figure out which AV channel is connected to AUX2, so I've missed whatever I wanted to watch by the time it works.

What did you think of this list?

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April 02, 2013
Coffee cups in general are badly designed. The base should be wiser than the rest for stability. A relatively small opening at the top will retain hear better. How difficult is this to see?
November 15, 2011
July 14, 2011
Canned goods with flip lids are certainly much easier. However, the bad design of requiring a can opener is also a cost issue. Since we are talking about a $1 or less can of goods, adding a more complex lid can cut a very tight profit margin even tighter.
March 22, 2011
Cell Phones and other hand helds need a uniform method for charging
April 18, 2011
They're working on it. They're already making a standard laptop cable that most companies are using (though not acer). Cell phones are moving towards standard A to B cables. It's a slower movement, but we're getting there.
January 25, 2011
On many cars the side the hose is displayed on the pump icon indicates the side of the filler cap.
January 25, 2011
I destroyed expensive pills trying to liberate them from their absurd packaging.
January 25, 2011
LMAO, I never even thought about any of this, but yes, peeved by several of these!  I so hate clamshell packaging *shudder*  Great list!
July 17, 2011
To open clamshell packaging, I grab one corner and with a hammering motion slam the package onto the pavement. This cracks the next corner. Then pry it open open with your bare hands. This is surprisingly satisfying, releasing the frustration of having to do this in the first place, and working for the reward. It usually takes a few poundings. The product remains safely protected at the center of it's pod during this birthing process.
July 17, 2011
Another design fail: iOS autocorrect changes "its" to "it's" when half the time that's incorrect!
January 25, 2011
"a few people who escaped the soda business and brought over their can-opening innovations that made the whole thing much simpler and less dangerous" Definatly more dangerous, i once opened one and i had to pull so hard on my can of hungry man that it came up to fast and sudden that it caught my thumb and gave me the second worst cut that i have ever gotten on my finger tips.
April 18, 2011
Good can openers have a strong magnet to pull the sharp lid out for you.
January 24, 2011
IN DEFENSE for the Infrared Toilet Flushers. These flushers keep urine covered shoes from stepping onto the commode handles than i use my hands to flush. The problem is that the HANDLES were never dirty until Joe Shmoe had to trample it with his pee covered shoes.
April 04, 2011
You should *always* use your foot to flush public toilets. Whether someone has done so before hand is irrelevant: Keep in mind that even if everyone is using their hands, they are using their hands after having just sat down (potentially bracing themselves with their hands on the toilet seat as they do so), used the restroom, and wiped themselves prior to flushing the toilet... All without washing or sanitizing their hands during the process. Public toilet handles are gross, no matter how you slice it. Always flush with your well-shod foot.
January 24, 2011
I was a victim of Clam Shell Packaging this weekend. Unfortunately it was the USB cable inside that took the brunt of the damage as I managed to cut it into 3 pieces while opening the package.
January 24, 2011
The Calamitous Curse of the Clam continues!
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