I have been fortunate to have worked closely with graphic designers during the course of my Digital Marketing career. I am primarily a data-driven performance oriented marketer, but I do have a keen interest in art and design. I might not be able to draw to save my life, but I can appreciate aesthetics and good design.
But this post is not about web design or UX Design. It is, unfortunately, a bit of a rant triggered by a few observations of items that I use daily.
The first exhibit I would like to present is the image above. I am sure you will agree that it’s a very aesthetically pleasing design. I was observing people consuming juice from this dispenser at my co-working place. I guess it must be very obvious what the design flaw is about this dispenser. Yes, the tap is placed not at the very bottom, but a few centimetres above. And, as you might have guessed, it means that a good amount of juice at the bottom of the dispenser cannot be extracted easily. Surely, the better design would have been to move the tap closer to the bottom. Yes, it might not be as aesthetically pleasing as the current design, but, surely, far more practical and useful?
The second exhibit is my mobile phone. Without revealing the brand, it is a standard design for a smartphone with a relatively large screen. No physical buttons anywhere on the front, but it has a power button on the right towards the top and volume levers across this on the left. These are both fairly well designed ergonomically. Except for one irritating flaw. If I am holding the phone with both hands, as one does fairly regularly, then I have discovered that there is no way I can switch off the display without pressing the volume lever on the opposite side. And pressing both these switches simultaneously triggers the screenshot capture. I have lost count of the screenshots I have taken when I meant to switch off the display. Again, I am sure there must be a way I can programme it such that pressing the two switches together does not trigger a screenshot capture. But it is too much effort to research and act on. So I just grumble whenever this happens, delete the image and move on.
The third exhibit is another device that I use almost daily – my laptop. And the irritating piece of design is very similar to my mobile phone. The power charging socket of the laptop is on the right, at the very top of the keyboard close to the screen hinge. And on the left hand side of the keyboard, towards the middle is the power button. Every time I use my left hand to firmly hold the laptop as I insert the charging socket using my right hand, my fingers on the left hand brush against the power button, putting the laptop to sleep. Which means that I have to remember to pay close attention when I am doing a mundane activity such as connecting the power charger to my laptop. Something that I will be happy to do without really thinking about it.
For sure, these are not critical flaws affecting the usability of the products (except the first one). But when one is a regular user of these products, these flaws can prove to be a cause of irritation. I might not change these products due to this flaw, but I will definitely consider other brands when I am purchasing my next phone or laptop.
This leads me to wonder – why is it that such large and leading brands have such basic design flaws? Is it that they are not aware of the existence of these flaws? I am sure they must be doing User Experience Testing as part of the Product Design process. Is it that they have not tested for these use cases? Or is it that they are aware of it but decide to let it slide as there is no simple solution for it? Irrespective of the real reason, it feels like they could probably do with being more ‘customer obsessed‘.