Categorizing Bad User Experience

The Eight Categories of Bad User Experience Design

After years of analyzing interfaces in software, traffic systems and product design, I’ve realized that there are a handful of categories most mistakes fall into. Many of these categories overlap–for instance, a piece of hardware built without a user’s physical limitations in mind is labeled as Awkward, but in many cases can also fall into the Dangerous category–and many instances of bad design will fall under several categories.

I attempted to make icons for the reverse of all these situations: Consistent, Safe, Intuitive, and so on. But good design is much more difficult to categorize. A good system will take everything into account, from possible human error to clarity of affordances. I’m not trying to focus only on the negative aspects of design, but these icons can make it easier to classify what needs to be addressed, and a finished product will ideally have none of the eight labels associated with it.

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1 Response to “Categorizing Bad User Experience”


  1. 1 Fantastic Forrest January 27, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Love the categories and the labels. Can’t wait to show these to my family to see if they can add anything. I’m not hopeful; you’ve obviously given this a lot of thought. It’s amazing how goofed up some designs can be, isn’t it?


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