The Life-Changing, and Potentially Life-Ending, Consequences of Bad Design


Throughout my research I developed a solid understanding of the various things that as designers we do that can cause heartache, frustration and fatalities for the people impacted by the systems we design. We are designing technologies with the ability to save lives, or change lives, yet we often forget the importance of usability and instead favouring the aesthetics. We need to design with a solid understanding of what the end-user needs to ensure that our designs function correctly and are usable. An unusable design can result in an innocent life being robbed from someone; therefore we need to see our end-users as real people and understand the devastation surrounding a system that is not fit for purpose.

When we communicate with the end-user and understand what they need and what information is important for them to carry out what they need to do, then we design a system that is functional. The basis of everything we design is to make people's lives easier, therefore we need to understand the people, and provide them with a system that they can use. We should value their input and design around the user, not for ourselves. A usable system has a much greater value than a visually appealing design with limited functionality.

We have the responsibility to not to cause people distress or frustration through our designs, therefore we should be clear with our communication and ensure that the end-user understands every aspect of various processes by providing strong, clear feedback. We should never intentionally cause the end-user confusion or mislead them to make decisions to try and generate sales. We need to deter people's desire to add in dark patterns in an attempt to force the end-user to agree, or purchase something that they do not want, or need. Instead, we need to educate and explain the benefits of prioritising a good user experience and how the benefits will be more profitable in the long run.

The ability to change lives, and positively impact people's lives comes down to considering users feelings, as well as their limitations. A disability does not mean that you should not be considered and does not mean that should be treated in a different way to those around you. Adding in features that make it easier for people with various limitations to use technology and have independence is revolutionary. We need to consider and value every user, as every user is important.

Our design choices offer far more than an appealing interface, they save lives. They give the end-user the tools to complete tasks, to operate life-changing technologies and to be able to use the systems intuitively. We make processes simpler and user-friendly. We give people the ability to use technology and not let a disability restrict their ability to access information. When we design a system that works, we change lives. It is important to understand the importance of design and how every choice that we make throughout the design process can have a positive impact on users.

Chapter 3


© Written & Designed by Amber McGregor