design is not easy. That’s why it’s a valuable skillset. If it were easy, we could just give the to “unicorns”, those mythical jerks of all trades. If there’s one thing that I hope this series has gotten across, it is the perilous nature of UX, and the sheer number of ways in which you can screw up.

That said, some blunders are just so offensively stupid, so flamboyantly incompetent that I can’t help but wonder what the idiot in charge was actually doing instead of their job. Today, I have compiled five examples of products that had all the pieces there, but nonetheless failed to assemble them into something useful.

Also, I’d like to welcome WhatsApp to the BUXRU club. This won’t be the last time you see them.

You cannot access the onscreen keyboard from the Mac login screen

Let’s say you need to log on to your Mac, but your keyboard is not functioning for some reason. Perhaps it’s battery-powered and the battery is dead. Maybe the keyboard just crapped out for good. Maybe one of the keys for a character in your password is broken. Whatever the case, your keyboard is useless for getting you into your own computer, for which you paid thousands of dollars.

“Hmm,” you think, “perhaps I can click that keyboard icon in the top right to access an on-screen keyboard. After all, the Mac does have one.

Unfortunately, all that menu in the upper right does is let you select which language your keyboard types in, but it does not let you bring up the on-screen keyboard.

That’s right. If you are without a physical keyboard, your Mac will not let you log in, even though it has all the components to allow you to log in with just a mouse. I know this because it has happened to me.

This is typical Apple. Their products are designed to be used only in the most ideal of circumstances. Any hint of challenging conditions and they become worthless. The iPhone is another example. Apple was the company to introduce the idea of a button-free touchscreen phone, and they are constantly boasting about which physical input they will remove next. This makes the device increasingly more reliant on a few delicate components, meaning that, if one of them fails, the entire device becomes a paperweight. There was once a time that I was able to retrieve photos from my flip phone even though the screen was broken.

None of this should be surprising. Apple loves to infantilize its users, imagining them to be a bunch of ironic mustache-wearing yupsters on the eternal umbilical to their parents, taking Instagram photos of the artistic foam in their latte. The idea of a person who might use their technology in an adverse situation is unthinkable because their target user probably hasn’t even changed a tire.

Important lessons

  • Design your system to remain functional even when parts of it are broken.

Bonus: You cannot take screenshots on the OSX login screen.

While writing up the previous UX blunder, I had to pluck screenshots from the web because the dumpster fire that is OSX does not let you take screenshots of the login screen.

Important lessons

  • Do not restrict the ability of a device to record its own output.

Mobile Reddit does not show who you are posting as.

Imagine you are a social media marketer operating a number of Reddit accounts from your phone. You would want to be very certain you were posting from the correct account, as that kind of faux pas is the kind of thing that can mortify a brand. You would definitely not want to post in “r/kink” on behalf of an S&M dungeon but accidentally use the account of a children’s daycare center.

Even if you aren’t a social media marketer, perhaps you have personal and professional Reddit accounts. You definitely won’t want to mix the two if your personal content is off-brand.

Unfortunately, if you have started typing a response on the Reddit app, you cannot see which account you are posting from.

In fact, even if you were to leave the edit window, you still cannot see who you’re signed in as. And even if you leave the current post and return to the list of posts (in the process, losing your position in the thread of replies), even then you won’t be able to see. You’ll have to go all the way to your crap drawer.

Facebook lets you see who you are posting as. Twitter lets you see who you are posting as. Reddit has always appealed to those who like to post anonymously, and yet this mobile UX blunder is a slap in the face to those users.

Important lessons

  • Provide the user the information they need to complete the task, and provide it to them in the context in which the task will be performed.
  • If the competition is doing it, and it’s not a shitty idea, then copy it.

YouTube’s craven and incompetent copyright policy

Speaking of Reddit, I found this post on Reddit’s “r/assholedesign”.

Footage of an organ rendition of a 41 year old movie theme, taken on what was more than likely a phone camera, was blocked by YouTube on behalf of a cancerous media corporation. Who is the winner here? Certainly not the person who took the video and certainly not the users. Just some greedy piece of shit who stands to lose literally not a fraction of a cent to this video.

We can talk all day about how incompetent and backwards United States IP law is, but Google is actually in a position to do something about it. Google holds the cards here. YouTube is incredibly powerful; they could probably get away with simply telling UMG to eat a dick. If UMG really wanted to throw their weight around, YouTube could de-monetize all of their content, or even just take it down completely.

But, of course they don’t. They aren’t on our side and they never were.

Important lessons

  • Do not betray your users for a third party.
  • Use your company’s strengths to its advantage.

Those mysterious light green areas on Google Maps

Have you ever been using Google Maps and seen something like this?

What the heck is that light green area? Unlike every other shaded area in Google Maps, the light green area has no label. And unlike every other shaded area, it disappears if you zoom in to an arbitrary level.

If I switch from map to satellite mode, I notice that the area that was light green is covered in trees.

After some digging around, I determined that Google uses that light green color to denote grassland or forested areas that are not parks. The choice of seafoam green for forest is mystifying to me, even more so is the lack of a legend explaining these colors, and most of all is the fact that the green zones disappear arbitrarily.

I generally regard Google Maps to be one of the better user experiences on the internet for reasons that I enumerate here so this blunder is out of character. It’s more like something you’d expect from a certificate mill graduate than design worthy of the otherwise seamless Maps. What the hell happened?

Important lessons

  • Every data visualization should include a legend.
  • Do not make information disappear randomly.
  • Choose the proper color to signify information.

WhatsApp’s obnoxious “Storage Almost Full” message that comes up every time you open the app

If you use WhatsApp and you keep a lot of crap on your phone, you have probably seen this message:

WhatsApp notifies you that your storage is running out because, since the app receives messages directly onto your phone, a full phone hard drive means you won’t receive messages. But their “solution” to this problem is atrocious.

Every time you click on the app, even if you’re switching between it and other apps several times in a minute, this alert pops up and there is no way to prevent further alerts.

A non-shitty solution to this problem would be to place an alert within the chat interface letting the user how many more messages they can receive before they’re full. This estimate would be based on the average size of the messages the selected content sends.

Let’s see if someone at WhatsApp listens. I’m not holding my breath.

Important lessons

  • Do not badger the user with annoying notifications.
  • Provide the user the information they need to complete the task, and provide it to them in the context in which the task will be performed.

Help me hit 5000 followers!

Did you like this article? Then please follow me, because my goal for 20 is to reach 5000 followers. I can only do it with your help.

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Bad UX Roundup #18: You had one job! was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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