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9 Examples of Input Is Error

I think generally ... all input is error.
~ Elon Musk, Joe Rogan Experience
Input is error is an approach to user interfaces and customer experience that minimizes user input. The following are illustrative examples.

Zero-click Buying

Algorithms that purchase for you based on their supposed understanding of what you want or need.


Automation of things that are of no interest to the user. For example, a clock that never asks you to set its time.


Algorithms that guess your input without you needing to do anything. For example, a streaming media service that suggests a series that you are likely to be interested in based on your viewing habits. In this context, if you enter a search, the suggestion algorithm could view this as an error because it suggested something that didn't gain your interest.

Customer Service

Low touch customer service such as removing the need to check out of a hotel ... you can just leave and view your bill online.

Dumbing Down

User interfaces that assume users are incapable of making any decisions for themselves. For example, a photo editor with simplistic functions such as "beautify" as opposed to providing access to configure the filters that are used by the software.

Lazy Engineering

Dumbing down can make engineering far easier and is a shortcut used by technologists. For example, a search function that doesn't let you enter freeform text but rather requires that you select text that it understands. This removes the complexity of handling unique queries and makes the engineer's job easier.

Design Minimalism

The entire history of modern design is oriented towards design minimalism. This suited the era of industrial manufacturing whereby producing bland white and black boxes without any decorative features served businesses that operate at great scale where a variation such as color can cause supply chain issues whereby an unpopular color becomes over stocked. In the internet age, this mantra of less is more resulted in overly simplistic user interfaces and over-automation that removes all or most choice.


Minimalism regarding user input itself whereby clear choices such as text and buttons are replaced with obscure gestures and shortcuts with the aim of minimizing all user efforts. This has the opposite effect of dumbing down as user interfaces based on obscure gestures can have a steep learning curve.


Input is error could obviously lead to a dystopian future where societies, industries and systems decide that algorithms know best such that choices in life are removed. This is depicted in the animated film Wall-e wherein a spaceship is filled with obese passengers that appear to have lost the ability to walk themselves. Life on the ship is highly automated with nobody on the ship, including the captain, knowing anything about the mission or destination of the ship.
Overview: Input Is Error
An approach to user interfaces an customer experience that minimizes user input.
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User Experience

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Context Of Use
Customer Needs
Desire Path
Error Messages
Fit For Purpose
Human Error
Human Factors
Human Scale
Industrial Design
Input Is Error
Look And Feel
Media Design
Naive Design
Sensory Design
User Experience
User Persona
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