Good Design, Bad Design


Good design communicates, bad design complicates

Bad Design

We can all recognize bad design. Bad design is apparent and it has a negative impact in our daily lives. We struggle with it in our physical and digital lives because it throws up barriers that make our lives difficult. We can easily identify it’s weaknesses, critique it and suggest improvements.

Bad design can be confusing.

A push door with

Push or pull? Confused yet?

CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

It can also be humorous or even threaten our safety by introducing “the likelihood of human error”.

A bicycle path with a posts in the middle of the posts.

“Bad design increases the likelihood of human error.”

Photo: ESA
Copyright Notice:

Good design

Good design is usually transparent and goes unnoticed. It’s difficult to critique good design. It’s largely invisible to us because it’s doing it’s job well. Good design successfully communicates to people and allows them to achieve greater understanding. Good design communicates. Bad design complicates.


“Good design enables, bad design disables.”

– Paul Hogan, Architect and Founder of the European Institute of Design and Disability


Accessible Design is Good Design

About 1/5 of us live with a disability. Some disabilities are severe. And at some point, most of us will be impacted by a short term disability, such as a broken arm or depression (the number one disability in the world). As I write this I’m suffering from a concussion, resulting in a temporary cognitive disability that makes reading, writing and comprehension difficult at times. And we acquire disabilities as we age, such as loss of motor function control.


“Accessible design is good design – it benefits people who don’t have disabilities as well as people who do. Accessibility is all about removing barriers and providing the benefits of technology for everyone.”

– Steve Ballmer


Good design principles apply to everyone: people living with or without a disability. For example, a well designed menu system on website benefits everyone. Accessible design improves usability for everyone.

Removing barriers in design, physical or digital, for people with varying abilities improves design for all of us. Good accessible design benefits everyone by removing barriers to allow ideas to be better communicated and understood.



About jhounslow

Soccer enthusiast, cyclist, web developer, e-learning professional, educator, husband to a graduate student, and father of four daughters.
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