Jan 19, 2019

Design insights into ordinary things

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Design view

It all starts with a question. Just like everyone else, we concern million things like a madman: Why are headphones shaped the way they are ? Why is a pencil so edged, not rounded instead? 

Well, to sound smart, we may presume — to prevent from rolling on a desk, to optimize expenditures of wood materials, and it’s easier to sharpen than round up.

Feels good to feel like a curious child and seek answers, expand knowledge about every little thing we encounter around us. Important to mention, interest not only pushes you to look at things from a different angle, it also encourages you to enhance your vision towards the future and come up with great ideas. 

Some items are made with a confusing system inside and not so technically professional. Let us present you some serious products we have translated into reality so far.

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Three things

Isnt it disappointing when someone’s personal “user experience” with a device or an app ends with irritation. As an IT company, we take responsibility for physical and technical comfortable usage.

Still, we have a lot of products we are not fully satisfied with. One of the ways to improve — provide a comprehensive response. For us, it is highly important to  explain visitors their impact on system. This interaction is supposed to guide through the system’s workflow.

On the other hand, We immensely enjoy receiving your feedback. Creating a product may remind cooking process: we know all the goods needed for a meal. Now, the person that will eat it eventually, lets us know about the final taste he prefers to have. That is why we need to test the meal by ourselves before the guest consumes it.  In case of him complaining on the dish, we improve it meeting all of his commands.

We also assume that things work in a certain way based on previous experience and when something goes in an unexpected way, we tend to stay calm and resolve a problem if there’s any. Here are a couple of instances where we can find odd design solutions in our everyday life.

Ding ding

The first example refers to such an ordinary thing as a doorbell. Sometimes when I press on it, I am not sure  whether this device is functioning or not. The only feedback I have is a pressed button. Basically, this button informs about visitor average attendance rank which is pretty useful for analysis of a particular action or set of actions. Sounds fascinating.

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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 feedback issue can be solved with putting an indicator near doorbell. Any passerby  will be able to see that doorbell works. Moreover, we can add diode next to it. Imagine, when it’s dark outside, you are able to find the desired button quickly.

Needless to say, some doorbells sound horrible which is widespread in Ukraine and USSR countries. indeed, we want to make it softer and pleasant.

The way of fixing it is installing digital doorbells that are reconnected directly to wires of a house.

Vacuum cleaner hell

If we refer to home appliances, we also can find flaws in the design. Consider the Kärcher vacuum cleaner since I have one. It’s a famous brand with a vast audience and multifold product 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 to what does this button do. But, the control of ON/OFF states is 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.

The 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. However, 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 that 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.

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WC issues

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

For 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 a manual to know important details. However, there is also exists an opportunity of making it better. For instance, the button created to reduce the global consumption 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 the 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 the toilet these guys explained its flaw perfectly. Why don’t we produce a product that counts our natural constitution?

As 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 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 the review of the book “Getting Real” and why visiting Hackathon is a great idea.