One of the things that amazes me both in work and personal life is how some really bad design faults can make it past product testing and into the real world.
There are degrees of terribleness here. In some instances what one person will see as a fault another will find quite workable. As Exhibit #1 I offer the BlackBerry Storm.
I reviewed this last November and have been using it regularly ever since.
Its depressing screen is a key feature. The whole thing goes down a millimeter or so when you push it, and there is a dual touch system in play where you touch the screen to highlight something and to scroll, and press to select.
I can confirm that it takes a bit of getting used to and may well be both depressing (as in ‘pressing down’) and depressing (as in ‘making you sad’) for some users. Others may love it. I’ve certainly come to terms with it.
Providing the technology actually works, this is a design fault only in as much as it will put some (not all) people off from the start. As anyone who ever made anything for public consumption will tell you, the first few minutes of user experience are crucial in terms of, well, let’s call it bonding.
The other type of design fault is that which permanently renders a device unusable in the way it is intended to be used. And that is unforgivable.
Exhibit #2 is HTC’s S740.
This is a Windows Mobile Standard smartphone with a sliding keyboard. The problem is that it has a shaped backplate which renders it impossible to use the keyboard when the device is sitting on your desk. Press a qwerty key and the S740 rocks and rolls all over the place.
Now, I know from having used a slidey-keyboarded smartphone for the past several years that I do from time to time want to prod at the qwerty keys while the thing is on my desk. The S740’s backplate makes this impossible.
Sneakily, this fault isn’t going to be immediately obvious to everyone when they first take the S740 out of its box. But the first time they try to tap the keyboard with the thing on their desk it’ll jump up and bite them.