Sorry if this is old news, but I just ran across it and thought it
might be useful. - Mark
Scientist: Complexity causes 50% of product returns
March 06, 2006 (Reuters) -- AMSTERDAM -- Half of all malfunctioning
products returned to stores are in full working order, but customers
can't figure out how to operate the devices, a scientist said on Monday.
Product complaints and returns are often caused by poor design, but
companies frequently dismiss them as "nuisance calls," Elke den Ouden
found in her thesis at the Technical University of Eindhoven in the
south of the Netherlands.
A wave of versatile electronics gadgets has flooded the market in
recent years, ranging from MP3 players and home cinema sets to media
centers and wireless audio systems, but consumers still find it hard
to install and use them, according to den Ouden.
She also found that the average consumer in the U.S. will struggle
for 20 minutes to get a device working before giving up.
Product developers, brought in to witness the struggles of average
consumers, were astounded by the havoc they created.
Den Ouden also gave new products to a group of managers from consumer
electronics company Philips Electronics NV, asking them to use them
over the weekend. The managers returned frustrated because they could
not get the devices to work properly.
She said most of the flaws found their origin in the first phase of
the design process -- product definition.