At the Ref Desk (1/5/21): First shift of the year! [more...]

The Cost of Complexity

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 10/20/07 (2:57pm)

A while back, I mentioned in response to a post by Don Norman on "Simplicity Is Highly Overrated" that the washing machines where I lived are so complex that someone had lost all patience and crowbarred one of them open.

This was significant, I felt, since Don Norman had mentioned washing machines as one of the things he wanted all the bells and whistles for. But what sense did this make as a rule for design, I countered, if you end up with a product where the user is forced to jimmy open the door because he can't figure out how to get his clothes out?

Well, I regret to report that a second machine has fallen victim to one of my neighbor's exasperation. It's hard to tell in the picture because the doors are all black, but the handle on the machine furthest to the left is completely busted off.

That makes two out of four machines or, in other words, a 50% crowbar rate!