Янв 19, 2019

Design insights in ordinary things

Design view

So you begin to ask questions like a madman about various kinds of things. Why do your headphones look like this? Why pencils aren’t rounded but have different edges. There are several reasons for it — prevent from rolling on a desk, optimize expenditures of wood materials, and it’s easier to sharpen than round one.

It’s wonderful to feel again like a curious child and seek answers, expand knowledge about production process, materials, and approach in design. Worth to mention that this vision not only pushes you to look at things from a different angle. A lot of digital or real life products have flaws. These small defects can spoil our experience. So you will also start to imagine possible ways for improvement.

When you interact with certain objects, we have moments like — “What did just happen?” or something more clearly stated— “I hate the whole team who created that, and I will find you and…” you know how it ends.

Three things

We feel bad when our experience with physical device or app is spoiled, and we even blame ourselves for this misfortune. Meanwhile, people talk a lot about UX and its role. In fact it was always here but didn’t have such fancy term.

Still, we have a lot of products that don’t meet our expectations. One of the ways to improve — give more directed response. With additional signals we can explain to users their impact on system. The feedback will help them to understand the reasons and the way how system works.

It’s natural for us to work with feedback. Every human being do it not only during creative work but every single minute. Each second of life our five senses give us tons of data for analysis.

Think about cooking soup. You’ve read that there must be a particular number of sliced vegetables and one pinch of salt for this portion. But you can’t say for sure is it enough or not, only with The only way check is to taste it, and based on a reaction of thousands of receptors decide whether it’s fine or you need to add more.

We also assume that things work in a certain way based on previous experience and when something goes in an unexpected way it confuses us. I’ve prepared a couple of samples where we can find odd design solutions in our everyday life.

Ding ding

The fist example refers to such an ordinary thing as a doorbell. Sometimes when I’ve pressed a doorbell, it was unclear to me whether this device worked or not. The only feedback I have is a pressed button.

I’m not sure that there is someone who thinks it will be okay to share this info with every visitor. It’s not a website, each person in the house knows who is a guest and who isn’t. The average time of a visit — well it would be useful for analysis of particular action or set of actions. For general visits, it won’t tell any useful info. But the idea is pretty creative.

I’m not sure that there is someone who thinks it will be okay to share this info with every visitor. It’s not a website, each person in the house knows who is a guest and who isn’t. The average time of a visit — well it would be useful for analysis of particular action or set of actions. For general visits, it won’t tell any useful info. But the idea is pretty creative.

This issue with feedback we can solve by putting an indicator near doorbell. The person will be able to see that doorbell works. Moreover, we can add diode near it. So, when it’s dark outside you will quickly find the desired button. Worth to mention that some doorbells sound horrible. This notion is more relevant to Ukraine and USSR countries. It will be great if the initial sound of a bell would be soft and rising. The solution is installing digital doorbells, instead of classic ones which connect directly to communication wires of a house.

Vacuum cleaner hell

If we refer to home appliances, we also can find flaws in design. Consider Kärcher vacuum cleaner since I have one. It’s a famous brand with a vast audience and multifold products lines.

The first weird decision or it’s better to say the flaw is related to the switcher. The shape and icon on it give a plain answer what does this button do. But the control of ON/OFF states are equal. A user won’t know for sure, whether a device is turned off or not. If you by accident shut down a device, next time you can plug in appliances without water in the tank. It may harm the engine.

Current structure makes it a little bit hard to notice the readiness of the appliance. You need to look for the side to see the water level. The good thing about that the device is hard to baffle, because of its shape.

If a person would like to carry this cleaner he or she has two options:
1) Grab the handle and awkwardly move to another room. Worth to mention that handle also isn’t convenient for holding.

2) Make a few steps and when to tug the hose to make cleaner obediently move into your direction. But if there is a carpet the device will move slower. So the wheels should be bigger, to increase the speed.

I’ve tried to imagine the way how we can implement certain changes. So here is the sketch of improvements. It’s just raw ideas, maybe all of them not good. The thing is that you always need to share and test your assumptions to find the right decision.

I still don’t finish with this “cleaner”, so what else can we say? Why did the areas with removable filters aren’t highlighted? When I’ve been working as a sales manager of vacuum cleaners, I observed how people were surprised tha they have more than one filter in their device.

It’s not a problem of people. It’s design without appropriate accent. Of course, the producer can say, that everything important explained in the manual. But the thing is that not big percent of people reading manuals. According to tech support hotline, Gadget Helpline — among 75,000 of respondents 64 percent of men and 24 percent of women never opened a handbook at all. So we as designers need to find more engaging ways to explain important parts of product usage.

WC issues

Want one more example of design? Let’s talk about a toilet. It’s an essential and well-designed piece of our life.

For a big part users, its usage is pretty straightforward. The design implies certain actions. There are no ambiguous points, and you don’t need to read manual to know important details. But there is also exists an opportunity of making it better. For instance, the button that created to reduce the global consuming of water doesn’t really work. Yes, people are strange creatures — even the button which looks like this. It’s still can be used in a wrong way.

The idea is great. But because of placing buttons too close to each other, humans just press it in the center. Perhaps if the lower water consuming control was placed separately from another control it would work. There is another important issue with the structure of toilet these guys explained its flaw perfectly. Why don’t we produce a product that counts our natural constitution?

Like I said, it’s only the beginning of a journey. A lot of aspects of our life can be improved and still waiting for the right decision. The design helps us to build better experience in all kinds of shapes and contexts.

Surroundings give can give us thousands of insights to make our life better. We just need to notice them.

If you enjoy this text, take a look at review of the book “Getting real” and why visiting Hackthon is great idea.