it appears that product designers are not designing for average people, but for some mythical SuperConsumer. According to a thesis published by a Netherlands graduate student, fully half of all malfunctioning products returned by consumers are actually in perfect working order- their owners simply couldn't figure out how to use and/or set them up correctly! Acccording to the Reuters report, the graduate student found that the average consumer in the United States, for example, will only spend twenty minutes trying to get a gadget to work before giving up and returning it.
This should be a wake-up call to consumer product companies such as Sony, Philips, Logitech and others. Increasingly steep learning curves mean increasingly disgruntled customers if the companies do not provide adequate instructions. Coupled with the tendency to delete hard-copies of the manuals, this almost guarantees high numbers of returns. Perhaps these high-powered product designers might think about the reaction of the average consumer, instead of assuming a high degree of technical competency for their prospective customers?