As UX experts, we spend our days rethinking products, services, and systems. And once you’ve flipped your brain into UX mode, it’s surprisingly difficult to flip back. Constantly
criticizing rethinking everyday experiences becomes an occupational hazard. With that in mind, we asked ourselves… If we could redesign anything, what would it be?
From presentations to public restrooms, here are 11 that need to be redesigned, but haven’t been… yet.
Presentations. I just want a mode where I can tell the operating system that I want to focus exclusively on 1-2 applications, and have it automatically turn off any notifications or suspend other applications, maximize power, and maybe offer to adjust the color profile to best fit the screen. And then undo all of that with a single click. It’s a small thing but we present a lot, whether to show work to one another for design feedback or review with clients, and it’d help each time. The pieces are there today, for the most part, it’s just about integrating it into the operating system so they all work seamlessly together.
2. Netflix Suggestions
The paradox of choice is real, y’all, and there’s no product that exemplifies it more than the Netflix homepage. It’s easy to waste hours scrolling through content organized by what Netflix thinks interests you. Here’s my proposal: provide a way to sort through shows and movies based on what the user is doing. My preferences are very different depending on whether I’m watching alone, with someone, while I’m cleaning my place, or actually intent on paying attention. Contextual “playlists” on Netflix would save hours of my time — hours I desperately need to rewatch The West Wing.
3. Apple’s Magic Mouse
Like most Apple users, I’d redesign Apple’s Magic Mouse 2. Although I do love the way this mouse looks, it’d be nice to charge my mouse and use it at the same time (hint, hint, @Apple). I guess beauty really is pain 😭
4. Grocery Stores
Grocery Stores. Am I right?! While part of me understands that they are designed to keep us inside longer so we buy more stuff we don’t need (I’m onto you middle aisles) I just want the grocery store to work the right way. Grouping produce and cold items together so you can get them at the same time, organizing aisles without blind corners, controlling flow of people, and improving the checkout process to name a few.
Healthcare. (Aren’t we all sick of that word by now?) We don’t have nearly enough infrastructure in place to adequately educate ourselves about how our bodies and minds work. We’ve become comfortable spending absurd amounts of money on insurance, prescription medications, treating preventable illnesses, etc., when we should be spending time learning how to take care of our emotional and physical health.
6. Getting Married
Make the experience of getting married by a judge a bit less blah. The current experience is not much different than going to the DOT to get your drivers license (the waiting in line, the terrible lighting/seating/smells, rude people, dingy room, etc.) I realize they both are run by the government, so the experience is bound to be awful and not human-centered in any way, but I think of the many processes you have to engage (😜) with the government, the process of getting married could be a bit more thoughtful, considering the occasion.
7. Public Restrooms
I would redesign public restrooms. Specifically, public restrooms in America.
After traveling overseas, I noticed how restroom designs over there bent over backwards to ensure that there was a feeling of privacy. For example, the doors and dividers were almost to the ground in most of Europe. Japan went above and beyond with little buttons that create a waterfall noise to mask the actual sound of using the toilet.
What I would really like to redesign is the shame associated with bathroom activities. But while I can understand that the human psyche is not easily changed. Would it kill someone to play some music?
Related: The Toilet, An Unspoken History
8. Higher Education
The structure of higher education. Why should someone feel pressured to decide what they want to do for the rest of their life at 18? I could barely choose what to eat for breakfast when I was that age.
Why are restaurants so loud?! And is it just me, or is it getting worse? At the risk of sounding like a crotchety old lady, gone are the days of carpets and tablecloths and soft piano music in the background. I’m sure there’s a lot that goes into designing restaurants, but sound design / sound absorption needs to be one of them. Because really, I don’t want to scream at my friends over a pile of pasta.
10. Street Lights
Some of my favorite childhood memories are of stargazing. Tracing constellations, watching the moon travel through the lens of my grandpa’s telescope, marveling at shooting stars on summer nights. So many kids growing up in our largest, most light-polluted cities miss out on the magic of the night sky, and Chicago is one of the worst.
I’d overhaul Chicago’s outdoor lighting to reduce light pollution. Smarter streetlights could brighten and dim as needed based on traffic and weather conditions. Lights on buildings and signage could be better shielded to direct light more efficiently. Maybe I’d even attempt to build a “decently dark” sky park for starrier nights for our city’s kids (and grown-ups, too).
Related: Light Pollution Map
11. School Software
I would redesign Learning Management Systems. All of the ones I’ve come into contact with (Desire to Learn, Blackboard, T-Square (which might be specific to Georgia Tech) are visually outdated, have impossible to learn information architecture, or both. Doing some user-centered information architecture restructuring (can I interest anyone in a card sort?) would go a tremendous way towards improving the overall experience, and getting a facelift would also help most of them out quite a bit too.