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Stupid Usability #57

Car Classics - The Ford Edsel

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 6/23/2014

From the mind of Joel Baglien, VP of Business Growth at High Monkey:

Full disclosure - I'm a motorcycle and car guy.  I love almost anything with an internal combustion engine.  HOWEVER, there are some cars that were so poorly designed - sometimes so butt-ugly, that they qualified for my "Stupid Usability Car Classics" series. 

My criteria for stupid usability car classics in this posting was simple:

  • Was it ugly?
  • What were they thinking?
  • Did they know bette

First up is the Ford Edsel that debuted in 1958.
Oh my God it was ugly!  (see below)

The executives at Ford were trying to  create a car line with pricing and quality somewhere between their already existing Mercury, Ford, and Lincoln lines by using parts from models in each of those lines.  Sound confusing?  Wait, there's more.  Edsels had two chassis/drivelines, four models (Ranger, Pacer, Corsair, and Citation) with two- and four-door sedans, two- and four-door convertibles and six- or nine-passenger station wagons for a total of 18 model configurations.  Many people were confused and it showed with sluggish sales.  Of course the over-marketing of Madison Avenue types, Ford's insistence on selling only through exclusive Edsel dealerships, and an economic recession killed the Edsel in three short years.
It didn't help that the car was named after Henry Ford's son, Edsel.  The name meant nothing to anyone who was planning on buying a car in the late 1950's.  The name Edsel had no appeal - no pizzazz.  In stupid usability terms the name was a disconnect for potential buyers.  Why would you buy an Edsel when you could drive a car with a sexy name like Thunderbird or Corvette?
Of course Ford knew better!
Three years earlier, the 1955 Ford Thunderbird (shown below) was an instant success and overwhelmed sales of the Chevy Corvette in its first year.  The Thunderbird went through 11 generations and survived until 2005.  Where the Thunderbird was a huge hit, the Edsel was a huge miss.  So, yes, the designers at Ford knew better and let arrogance and stupid usability ("If we build it people will buy it!") take over their thinking about the Edsel.

Next on my list is the Pacer and Gremlin - AMC really should have known better on those two!


Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 6/23/2014 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments