Not Suitable for Idiots

by Terence

Things have been happening around me lately that have made me ask myself this question… is it always possible to produce a product that is idiot-proof? What does this nebulous term mean anyway? That the product is so intuitive that even an idiot can’t mess up? Is it always the manufacturer’s fault when the consumer makes a mess of things?

Sure I can see how you can make something as simple as a cup idiot-proof. “The liquid goes in this end buddy” [duh]. But what about something more complex, like a car? No matter how intuitive you try to make things, it will never be idiot proof. That’s why we have things like age labels – Not suitable for children below the age of 6.

My conclusion? User-friendly yes, Idiot-proof no.

So the next time someone tells you that your product should be idiot-proof, stick a label on it “Not Suitable for Idiots”.

P.S. Joan and I ruined our nice set of red Ikea cushion covers recently. We decided to ignore the “No washing” instructions on the cushion covers (who makes cushion covers that can’t be washed anyway??!). After a round of delicate handwashing, we realised that the washing instructions were not exaggerating. Our cushion covers now release a nice red stain onto any light coloured surface – even though they are dry. Needless to say, we had to make another trip down to Ikea last evening to pick up more cushion covers… this time we made sure the darn things could be machine washed :p