The bad design of everyday things

Have you ever come across a badly designed product and thought to yourself “How on God’s green earth would I use this? “ You are not alone! I have often felt frustrated, irritated and even angry at times if I am unable to use a product or service simply because it is so poorly designed that I feel like I should bang my head against the wall. I often wonder:  

“What was actually going through the designer’s head when making this design decision?”

If the aim of these products or services is to support the user, should they not be easy to use instead of being a massive pain in the ass? 

In this article, I will go through some examples of products with a Bad UX (Disclaimer: sarcasm ahead!).

1. Whatsapp delete message feature

Informing the recipient that the sender has deleted a message somewhat defeats the purpose of deleting it in the first place. 

Good on you Whatsapp! I thought I might keep this one to myself but alas! 

Screenshot of a WhatsAppChat thread where the messages read " You deleted this message".

2. A (somewhat) crazy drop-down menu

I always thought that drop-downs menu existed for people who exist 🙂 Well, not for this benefit enrollment site that I came across. You can also sign up even if you are not born yet 🙂 Isn’t this just awesome? Or might I call it “Futuristic design”

Screenshot of a UI with a date picker. The option for date of birth includes a dropdown menu for year, going all the way up to 2078!

3. Another (somewhat less) crazy dropdown menu

Here’s another drop-down which has not been, lets say “carefully designed”. It is an example of bad UX design mainly because of two reasons. First, it clutters the overall UX. Second, since the whole purpose of a drop-down which is to make it easy for the user to select an option and move on is defeated as it makes it hard to search and select an option. Perhaps investing sometime into understanding design guidelines for drop-downs might help 🙂

Screenshot of a UI with a dropdown menu for selecting a State to ship too. All the options begin with the words "Ship to ...".

4. Forgot math when designing elevator buttons

Wonder what they were thinking when designing these set of elevator buttons? See if you can spot the error!

Photograph of an elevator's buttons with floor number 10 next to floor number 0.

5. Can you read between the lines? 

Had a long day and want to do your laundry? Well, either you google how to do it or you are a laundry Ninja! In my case, I am stuck between a rock and a hard place and have no clue what those icons where the line on the knob is pointing at means unless I refer to the manual that came with the washing machine 🙁 Can we have simple products please? 

Photograph of a laundry machine dial where all the options are icons

6. Are you hungry- yes- stay hungry! 

Good luck figuring out how to use this microwave when all you want after a hard day’s work is warm food and a nice movie on Netflix!

7. An empty shelf! 

This is what happens when you design in a hurry without thinking what you are designing would be used for! Apparently, the builders ran out of shelves. End result- an outstanding design! Or is it? 

Video of a person opening an overhead shelf, which doesn't have a base.

8. Another shelf bites the dust!

An absolutely brilliant design for those who do not need a shelf in their toilet. 

Video of a person opening a wall-mounted mirror-shelf behind a water faucet. The shelf opens only a few inches, before getting blocked by the water faucet.

9. Who needs security when you can just walk right through!

I wonder what the designers were thinking when they designed these barriers!  You can just walk past the rail- no security checks whatsoever! I hope that this excellent design work is implemented at DisneyLand so I do not have to pay an extortionate amount to get in. Just show up and walk past 🙂

Video of a person walking past an unmanned security gate. The gate has a horizontal bar, but also leaves enough room between the divider and the bar so that a person can easily walk through.

10. A room with a view

Swiss alps! Nah, this view is even better. Side effect of such a view: Claustrophobia for life! 

Photograph of two buildings, one behind the other. The building that is behind is very close to the building in the front, such that there is no sunlight between the two buildings.

11. A poorly designed fire exit 

Just save yourself when there is a fire in the building! Don’t tell anyone! Jokes apart- for sensitive installations such as this, words matter. Imagine there is a fire in the building and someone just followed those instructions and went out of the building.

Photograph of a fire exit door. The message on the door reads, "Fire Exit Only. Please close this door quietly as guests may be sleeping."

It is high time that designers and human factors researchers get involved not just in digital projects (i.e. designing digital products and services) but also across spectrum of products and service offerings which are non-digital (in this case human factor researchers could have worked with the architects of the building to figure out what message can be placed on the fire exit door).

12. A confusing staircase? 

How do you plan on coming down the stairs? I nearly broke my leg! 

Photograph of a white staircase where the edges of each step are painted black. There is a black "edge" painted at the bottom of the staircase as well, giving the issulsion of a step, where there is none.

13. A not so “accessible” toilet 

Well, this hurts! A disabled toilet and shower with a step 🙁 

Photograph of the entrance to a unisex and disabled-friendly shower. The entrance to the shower has a raised step without a ramp.

14. Mesmerizing streets of Belgium 

I do not know if these are actually meant for sitting or for something else 🙂 Guess, the designers either had a bad day or lack social skills.

A circular arrangement of seats. At the back and above the seats are trashcans with trash spilling on to the seats.

15. A not so well-designed toilet.

All that was missing from this list was a poorly designed toilet 🙂 It is designed with the idea of “relieving yourself in peace” (pun intended).

Photograph of a WC with a glass door separating the WC from the toilet paper holder.


On observing the designs of the products and services presented in this article, it is clear to me that the designers lacked empathy and did not design with the end-user in mind. It is high time that we get rid of frustrating and time consuming products and services and the only way to do it is by following well established principles of design thinking.  Next obvious question on your mind would be- How do I learn design thinking?

I have personally benefited immensely by learning all about design thinking and other UX related topics from the world’s best design school- Interaction Design Foundation. Not only would you be learning entire spectrum of UX design from 30 beginner to advanced courses, but you would be getting taught by industry experts and gain recognized certificates to advance your career. Oh and with 83,630 graduates, the Interaction Design Foundation is the biggest online design school globally providing Ivy League level education in UX.

If you’d like to become an expert in UX Design, Design Thinking, UI Design, or another related design topic, then consider taking an online UX course from the Interaction Design Foundation. For example, Design Thinking, Become a UX Designer from Scratch, Conducting Usability Testing or User Research – Methods and Best Practices. Good luck on your learning journey!

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