Fill the void

Simpsons and Family Guy both started as traditional cel animation, 4:3 aspect ratio cartoons. Eventually they went digital paint and ink and to a wider 16:9 aspect ratio. I don’t think either show has looked as good as they did before the transition and I couldn’t figure out exactly why. BoJack Horseman, Rick and Morty and most anime series look great in 16:9 and hair thin outlines.

The difference is that neither show was really designed for a larger screen. They had to adapt as technology (TVs) improved. Essentially both shows got a lot more real-estate, but didn’t fill it with anything. Artistically the Simpsons residence looks more or less the same as it did when the show debuted in the late eighties. Peter Griffin still wears the same clothing as he did in 2001.

Copying and pasting from an old format to a new one rarely works out well without proper changes and design.

What’s the cost of bad design?

I regularly visit a small shopping center which has numerous design issues, but one of them stands out. A busy side entrance has sliding doors which are attached to a motion sensor. The sensor itself is fine, but it’s positioned incorrectly. If you approach the door from an angle, nothing happens. The doors stay shut. If you walk backwards and attempt to trigger the sensor, still nothing. Only if you do a proper double take and walk directly towards the doors, open sesame.

Most shoppers who can’t get in, end up either using another door or wait until someone walks out so the the doors open. The cost for the user is minor stress and irritation. The cost for the business is having staff deal with someone who was just made feel stupid by a door. Stressful interactions lead to more sickdays.

However, some just turn away and go shop somewhere else. For those selected few, the cost of bad design is literal: they will spend their money elsewhere.