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  • Writer's pictureJakob Nielsen

Reviews Warn Against Bad Product Usability

Summary: It used to be "buyer beware" for the usability of products (like the Ford T), but now consumer reviews often warn customers of bad design.

It was probably difficult to use this old-time product, but you wouldn't know until after you bought one. ("Ford Model T" generated by Midjourney.)

Product reviews are becoming increasingly focused on usability and UX, which is good news for customers. Companies can no longer impose awful design on customers as reviews provide a clear warning to potential buyers. Without reviews, customers may only discover unpleasant user experiences after purchasing the product because one doesn’t get to use it in depth without owning it. But when reviews cover usability, consider yourself warned.

Here’s an example of a car review from last month’s edition of Consumer Reports. (A magazine in the United States specializing in product testing and comparisons.) An expensive new car is assessed as having “taken a sharp turn away from user-friendliness.” I’m not paying $52,000 for a vehicle where adjusting the climate controls is difficult (and thus dangerous).

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