07 October 2010

Making things difficult for users

Golden Krishna of Cooper Design posts on designing things to be difficult to use, often to deter specific behaviours (e.g. sleeping on airport seating) or to create what you might call a 'side-benefit' (e.g. exercise shoes). (Recently I found a deterent medicine bottle so 'effective' I had to carve off the cap, rendering it unusable.)

Krishna skirts around designing difficulty into information, an enterprise for which I've yet to see a convincing rationale, although he mentions the deliberate use of 'amateurish' styling to create an impression of warmth and localness in web sites. (Perhaps this should be added to Harry Brignull's Dark Patterns, which Krishna also cites, although it's subtler than tricking people into unwittingly providing information about themselves or opting into services.)

Krishna's post led me to re-read Gerard Unger's consideration of legibility in typeface design, written in 1992 when there was a lot of silliness about challenging readers through type design and typography. It's still an excellent read.

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