I love lamps. To me the lamp is a modern Prometheus dispelling the darkness with light. Why then, do designers saddle their sweet designs with such terrible usability problems? I now draw your attention to the one thing that turns my lust into revulsion and sends my emotions careening from love into towering rage. I give you the cord switch. If there was ever a single thing that says, “I could care less about the end user”, it would be this loathsome solution to turning your lamp on and off.
When I’m fumbling in the dark for the on switch, I don’t want to have to find a moving target. I want to know, every time, where I need to go. Like the cup holder that blocks access to the temp controls in my Subaru, the cord switch tells me the designer hasn’t completed his usability homework. Just look at the picture above. Nice looking lamp, reasonably priced but has the cord switch albatros. Fail.
So what’s the reasoning behind them? Is the bean counter trying to cut costs? Does the designer not want to sully his “pure” design with that most mundane, yet vital piece of equipment? I wish I knew. It’s just one example of the disconnect that can exist between design and usability.
In the end, no matter what design discipline you undertake, not fully considering all the usability ramifications for the end user is to set yourself and your client up for failure.