Examples of bad design


I thought I would start a thread of simple examples of bad design that might be useful for pedagogical purposes someday. Similar to the design blunders thread but this is much more about small scale, simple instances of bad design that you see in your everyday life, where you can snap a picture, and post it to this thread with a comment.

That way we can build up a set of examples from all types of design that I feel might be useful in teaching the curriculum.


For example, I was on a bush walk the desert, and I found this choice of arrow symbol extremely confusing.

In the desert the paths are difficult to see, and the markers are the only thing keeping you on a track over what can be a multi-day walk. There is sufficient ambiguity in the choice of symbol that in bad light or from the wrong angle (or in a sun-struck state) it would be easy to read the arrow as suggesting going “left” rather than forwards and to the right.

It’s a small thing, but it serves as a good stimulus for thinking about the design of markers.

This kind of design flaw, if we can post pics or screenshots of things that we come across here, would be really useful for providing real world examples for students to work with (and any example of bad design is design brief waiting to be written).



Or the example of bus stops in Sydney… where the type of transport is denoted by a single capital letter:

  • B means bus
  • T means train
  • F means ferry

But within the bus stops they use a letter to denote which stand you’re meant to use… so I might be looking for stand F.

What then does it mean to someone unfamiliar to the system (like a tourist) when they see a sign like this one? Are you at a bus or are you at Stand B?



Colour coding is also an issue for colourblind people.


@Gary_Payne true that. This example of terrible design solves the use of colour but introduces other design issues. Use of emojis to tell the weather (only in America):