by Jonas Polsky
Life is constantly evolving, and systems and ideas must continually evolve in order to serve updated needs. Let’s stop accepting that everything must be a frustrating, illogical hassle. Here are things that are being done wrong.
Voicemail should be abolished - Voicemail was useful before every phone had built-in caller ID and time-stamping, but not anymore. 80% of the information that we used to leave in voice messages is automatically being captured, making voicemail obsolete.
Restaurants burdening customers with too many unpopular options - When someone orders a salad, the waiter should prompt “Ranch dressing?” instead of asking “What kind of dressing would you like?”. Most people are going to ask for ranch, and none of the ten alternatives you recite are going to make them act otherwise. If you find that your customers are selecting the same thing 99% of the time, suggest that, and cut the question-and-answer session to a minimum.
All windows should be shatter-resistant, and apartments and hotel rooms should be sound dampened. No one should be continually woken up, or worry about the constant threat of burglary because no one took the time to build a decent dwelling.
Lots of businesses open (and close) too early - Dentists, doctors, and dry cleaners shouldn’t close while working people are fighting traffic to get there. Nor should every visit to the doctor or dentist require time off of work. These types of businesses should be opening midday, closing late, and offering weekend hours.
Everyone doesn’t need to start work at the same time - Requiring all professionals to arrive at work by 9am is not efficient and increases the duration of commutes. Employees should have staggered arrival and departure times to reduce congestion.
Tax Filing Bottlenecks - There are 300 million people in the United States, and expecting the IRS to receive and process everyone’s tax forms on the same day is stupid. Divide taxpayers by the first letter of their last name, or their social security number and have half of them file on one day, the other half a few months later. This would also increase the demand for tax prep services from two months a year to several.
Emails from yourself shouldn’t show up with a notification - Everyone emails notes to themselves, and almost every time they rush to check their email notification. If the sender and recipient email addresses are the same, it should be flagged as a note, not as a new message.
Automatically saving blank email drafts - When a user navigates away from an “email” that is only a subject line or email address, it does not need to be saved. An email client should never save a draft, or prompt a warning when navigating away from a message that has nothing in the body. There’s nothing in the email, so there’s nothing to save. Discard it.
Gas station pumps should not require a 90 degree turn to enter - Once you’ve turned into a gas station, your car should be almost directly lined up with a pump. If you’ve designed a gas station that forces drivers to make a difficult turn to enter and exit the pump, you are terrible at your job.
Traffic signals should never be red when there is no cross traffic - With self-driving cars around the corner, traffic lights will eventually disappear, so it’s hardly worth mentioning; but waiting for non-existent cross traffic at a red light has been really annoying.
Logging into a website or application should be the exception, and not the rule - Users should only be prompted to log in at critical points, like making a purchase. Otherwise, let them navigate the site, and don’t ask for credentials to browse, upvote content, or check the weather.
Furthermore, ask yourself if a password is even needed for your site. If your website is used to listen to free music, with no saved personal information, your email address can easily serve as your username and password.
Password retrieval - When someone tries to log into your website and enters the wrong password, immediately email them at their registered email address. This link shouldn’t direct them to reset the password, instead it logs them into their account, and returns them to the page they were trying to use. People are forgetting their passwords all the time and having access to their registered email is enough verification for most websites.
The ability to comment on web content is a waste of time. Web 2.0 has failed, and nearly all online discussions about a piece of content devalue the content itself, offend visitors, and embarrass the website. Turn it off.
Credit card offers are not part of a shopping experience - A cashier has one function, to ring up items, and verify payment. Clerks should not be presenting credit card offers, selling warranties, or any other time-wasting nonsense. If hawking a credit card is so essential to your business, staff a dedicated area for it, and stop confusing, delaying, and aggravating customers who want to give you money and leave.
Get rid of all car alarms - Car alarms do not work, and studies have shown they do not impact theft. Instead, cars should be equipped with passive GPS that alerts the owner when the car has been moved, and more importantly, where it has been moved to.
Links to online articles should indicate if they are a video or text before a user has clicked on them. Furthermore, no video, or sound should ever auto-play on a website.
People in power should never be allowed to give themselves a raise, or otherwise enhance the perks of their position. These types of changes should be decided by a committee.
ATMs should not be offering a receipt for every transaction - A withdrawal of $20 dollars doesn’t merit documentation. All of your banking transactions are viewable online anyway, print yourself a receipt when you get home.
US Mail is doing it wrong - Bulk mail should be the most expensive, not the cheapest. The US Mail should not be allowed to increase the costs of first-class mail in order to offset the costs of delivering bulk mail. Furthermore, recipients should be able to opt-out of bulk mail.
Senate and Congress should vote via secret ballot - If anyone approached a private citizen at a voting booth and tried to influence their decision, they would be arrested. The voting record of public officials should only be made public after-the-fact. Otherwise the government operates as a favor-trading, corrupt, theatrical production, as it is now.
Life is Hell, but let’s stop accepting that it be any more difficult, confusing, or annoying than it already is. Take a look at the things that annoy you, and when possible, demand that they be changed.