America’s New Age of Flawed Design

Have you ever bought or used something in the last 5 years that didn’t work? This is common now, more common that ever before. And this article on a fancy new building whose poorly designed roof drops ice isn’t the first.

We live in an age of “design flaws” because the current generation in power isn’t mentoring the new designers in the basics of good design, engineering, and usability. There’s also a massive “reinvention of the wheel” going on that’s failing on a massive scale as people redesign things rather than build on good design the past 200 years.
I see it in technology now. Coding and web design is being rewritten using what kids THINK is cool and hot but terribly flawed and backward looking. Google’s Javascripted Angular and Twitters Bootstrap CSS both are filled with bugs, holes, and complexity that’s not building on current server technology but driving a flawed paradigm with new risks and limitations.
The same can be seen in car design with overtly complicated controls, thin material, cheap plastic that breaks, or poorly done engine design with parts that are impossible to get to or repair. There’s poorly designed handles that break, refrigerators that do cool properly, plumbing materials that break or crack, beds that aren’t comfortable, doors and windows that warp, highways that are not flat or banked on curves, cubicles that are too short, seats that aren’t comfortable, toys that fall apart, and inefficient systems that triple time to do things.
Why? Is it their egos that think they can design something better that 50 people carefully fine tuned over the past 100 years?
The worst cases of people reinventing old tried and true designs that once worked so well, and now failing, is those that add complexity to what were once very simple product designs. I’ve seen stereos that 50 years ago had space age simple knobs to turn on and off volume or the radio now a series of complicated programmed remotes that are too confusing to use. They’ve over-engineering the world trying to be “cool” but left us with a mess of convoluted technology that just is too hard to use.
After Steve Jobs passed away, I’ve seen the iPhone itself become harder to use, tinier buttons no one can click, tiny interfaces, no more back buttons, poor font choices, etc. on Netflix Ive noticed their interface has been caught by several poor usability designers who preferred giant photos of movie stars on screens that once benefited from several paragraphs of descriptive movie reviews. They later trashed those designs and crept back to interfaces they had 10 years ago.
Why? Why this churn of hot new design that doesn’t work then a return to old one? Again is it poor training, huge egos, or just poor understanding of usability that fuels this?
As corporations move to increase profit margins for Wall Street the Baby Boomers who run them have asked manufacturers in China to make everything out of cheap materials now, like plastic acrylic aquariums, car rims out of plastic, fans that break, doors that crack. Everything we own is cheap plastic now or pressboard under the covers. It’s worthless and not just poorly designed but poorly built. It’s designed that way to increase purchases of cheap products. 
Bikes at Walmart are $60 now but last a few rides and the tires go flat or the tire stems break. Paper plates, garbage bags, packaging on meat or around water bottles spills, breaks, drips, or shatters. It’s the massive redesigns if once great America made products overseas that creating an economy of disposable trash and waste.
What we need to do is tell Wall Street and Investors enough. We need to rate products on “durability”, “simplicity of design”, and “quality of materials”. Because America is building large trash heaps as monuments to its once great engineering capacity. Old stuff will soon be in vogue as we realize the plastic garbage we buy today is worthless.
What was once great design in manufacturing 40 years ago is being replaced by things built by people that don’t have any skill whatsoever. And it’s because the older generations in America no longer mentor the kids if today. There’s a complete disrespect by older Boomers of the need to transfer best practices to kids. And it’s because they purposefully cut themselves off from their own parents and culture 50 years ago, rejecting 100 years of engineering prowess and knowledge left after world war 2 of how to engineer things.
America will eventually decline, not from lack of jobs but from lack of talented engineers and designers that build on the knowledge of the past rather that trying to reinvent it.

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