Not Designed for Dummies

With the holidays, and being away from home and the office (and still able to do work), I've been using my old Dell Inspiron laptop more extensively than I usually do, and I've come to notice how crappy the keyboard design is on this thing.

The Ctrl key is too hard. I'd do a Ctrl-S to save my code changes in the editor, and sometimes it would simply echo an 's' in the middle of my code (the Ctrl didn't take). I guess I didn't press hard enough.
Bad design point #1: the product encourages people to do the wrong things (pressing hard on the keyboard in the long run is a health hazard, or so I've heard).

The TouchPad mouse is another thing. It's positioned right below where your thumbs would be located if your hands were fully positioned on the keyboard. I'd be typing along and then all of a sudden, the cursor would jump half a page down, and I find myself hypertyping in the middle of another block of code. What happened? Oh, I guess one of my thumbs must have touched the TouchPad by accident, triggering a mouse click that puts the cursor somewhere else.
Bad design point #2: the product encourages people to do the wrong thing without even realizing they were doing it.

May be because it's just an ancient Dell, or may be it's my seating posture. But this experience reminds me of how critically important usability is to any product, computer related or otherwise. To be usable, the user interface needs to be intuitive. If I build a product that does something when my users expect it to do something else, then this is a very bad thing. It's most likely qualified as carnal rule #1 of usability design, because if this happens too often, eventually the annoyance factor kicks in and my users will be cursing me for using my product.

Upon reflection, this is more of a wake-up call for myself than anything, because I at times make this very mistake in designing software user interface. I guess I need to have that "Design for Dummies" logo engrained in my head. But then again, if you're building radically new things out-of-the-box that have never been done before, and especially if you don't have usability experts on staff at your disposal, then the only true test of usability would be to put out beta releases, and get as many users as possible to use it, then make the necessary adjustments based on their feedbacks.