Nancy points out these bottles of Trader Joe’s shampoo and conditioner. They’re nearly identical, making it very tough to identify which is which.
She’s hit on an interesting concept here. In our quest to simplify (one which I work on every day on websites), we can’t go so far as to make things indistinguishable. I’d never really thought about why shampoo and conditioner bottles from the same brand were different shapes (or colors), but now I suspect it’s because when you’ve got soap in your eyes, you know which is which.
Usability is trying to identify the balance between simplicity and usefulness. These products went to far and as such are a failure. What about your sites? Products?
Does anything in your life suffer from this problem? What about things that are too complex?