Over-engineered. Too much. Superfluous. Ungapacht. Unnecessary.
Whatever you call it, you know it when you see it. Or, more accurately, when it fails to work, or fix the problem. It’s not you. It’s over-engineered. Created usually by inexperience or ego, over-engineering typically is a plan or a product that makes problems instead of solving them.
There was this lamp in a hotel room that took me 5 minutes to figure out how to turn it on. Finally, I did something that made it work. Over-engineered, but what the heck, it was a cool looking lamp.
The peach cobbler recipe from a famous obsessive home and lifestyle media person who contradicted the title of her magazine. When baking peach slices, it really doesn’t matter what size/shape the slices are. Yet there were extraordinarily NOT simple instructions on size and shape to cut the damn peaches after blanching.
Pointing out that the hot water needed to remove the peach skin would also render the fruit underneath a squishy, slimy mess would’ve been very helpful. I’d have gotten gloved up, with a bigger cutting board and a sharper knife. But no-o-o-o-o. And don’t get me started on IKEA assembly directions!
Steve Jobs said it best: “Good design isn’t about how it looks, it’s about how it works.”
Good looks will get noticed, but there needs to be more. It’s easy to be swayed by snazzy, or pedigree, but you shouldn’t have to work too hard to understand it, or make it work. Truly good design-and good designers-begin with the user, focuses on their experience, and solves problems, not create them.