Category: Design


WARNING?

Let’s be clear: This is not how you make a warning label when you want it to be followed; this is how you make a warning label when you’re trying to avoid a lawsuit without regard to the well being of your users (or maybe if a government agency is requiring it).

There is a warning label similar to this on my son’s Graco combination changing table/playpen. I was looking for the safe load weight (to ensure that the changing table would not give out below him), and, much to my dismay, this information was not provided on the warning label.

What was present on this warning label, however, was a warning to parents to not leave their kid in the play pen with the changing table attached or else the child could strangle themselves. Now, let’s examine the steps needed for a child to strangle themselves in this manner…The child would have to:

  1. Stand in the playpen
  2. Reach outside of the playpen, and depress the two locking pins on the changing table supports (which is difficult for me to do)
  3. Lift the posts of the changing table portion out of the holes in the playpen
  4. Place their head over the edge of the playpen
  5. Replace the changing table portion poles into the corresponding holes in the playpen

Compare that to the steps needed to exceed the weight limit:

  1. Place a kid who is too heavy onto the changing table

When creating warnings, companies need to figure out what questions the customers have and what actions the customers are likely to perform incorrectly (which cannot be corrected with design).

Safety is too important to leave to poorly formatted warning labels.

…pretty please make it this one!!!

So I’m hijacking my own blog a little bit because I thought I’d have some fun:

A couple of days ago, I discovered Quirky.com.

Basically, you can submit an idea to Quriky, with a 140 character tagline and a bunch of pictures/drawings, and, if you get enough votes within 30 days and they like your idea, they’ll actually produce it (and you can get some royalties)!

 

 

Well, it sounded like fun, so I submitted my Flexible Spatula!

So, here’s my CALL TO ACTION: Please go to this link: http://www.quirky.com/ideations/275496 , and vote for my idea!!!

Now, let’s be clear about somethings before you all think I’m delusional:

I know that I will not get rich off of this idea. I also know that, if this idea is chosen for production, Quirky will get a little richer off of it…and that’s all fine to me.

I love the idea of their site because it brings to market a bunch of products that would otherwise not see the light of day: I didn’t mind devoting the ~40 minutes to draw my design or the ~20 minutes to submit it to Quirky, but I would mind the huge monetary investment into developing materials, creating mold plates, and establishing a good working relationship with China!

Also, they do well playing on the fact that most people are good initiators (they can come up with a plethora of great ideas), but most are awful ‘finishers’ (as this is the part of the job that takes MUCH more work).

On top of all of that, I could, and may, also do a separate post on their website design because it really is top notch (it’s easy to use and it even has a countdown clock for your 30 days that gets as detailed as the seconds until your idea is closed for voting to add to the sense of urgency)!

So, are you feeling inventive? Submit something to Quirky!!!

Shift in Perspective

I love motivational poster generators. They really have changed my life.

In honor of the first-gen iPad that I just ordered off of CowBoom.com for a slammin’ deal, I whipped up the following:

I used to ridicule my dad for his 2-finger ‘hunt and peck’ (or ‘seek and destroy’) method of typing…who would have thought that a few years later we’d all be typing with 2 fingers (let alone 2 THUMBS!) and thinking ourselves to be more technologically advanced than the 10 finger folks?!?

As funny as this is, I feel that it still begs the question: If we had deemed that 2-finger typing was far inefficient to our 10 finger typing, and we have whole high school and college classes and mail-order courses designed to teach you how to type with 10 fingers instead of 2, than why do we accept (and even seem to embrace) this 2-finger typing mandated by our newfangled technological devices?

Why, when we had a fresh palette (by means of a blank touchscreen) did we default to the traditional keyboard set-up/layout? I know that it’s familiar, and it has a quick learning curve, but is it the best way?

Maybe Google had it correct with Google Tap after all…

Flex-I-Spatch

Well, I had some more fun with Inskscape today, and I wanted to share it with you.

(I was very much inspired by Joseph Joseph. You should really check out all of their awesome gadgets!!!)

Without further ado, I give you the Flex-I-Spatch:

Thanks for looking!!!

Search and ye shall find.

Nowadays it seems like more and more retailers are being pushed to create mobile friendly sites (and it certainly makes sense with the use of smart phones on the rise), but it seems that one feature which is often overlooked is the search box…which is a shame because it’s probably one of the most used features of the site.

An easy example is Target’s mobile site: you click in the “search target.com” box, and the text remains there. You have to backspace out the text in order to actually search for anything.

This, in and of itself, takes some unnecessary time and clicks, but, to add to the frustration, sometimes my phone reads the “backspace” command as a “go back to the last page” command, and then I have to go forward just to get back to the site to try the same dang thing again.

This seems like another one of those cases where the usability wasn’t checked by actual, oxygen-breathing humans.

The functionality is all there, but the user-friendliness is sadly lacking.

 

Lost in translation…

I own a couple of these style of cups.

They’re great…in concept, but something got lost between concept and design.

First of all, mine cannot be microwaved, or put in the dishwasher. You aren’t even supposed to put hot beverages in it. Therefore, this cup is an inconvenience.

Secondly, the straw is hard, rigid plastic. I almost chipped a tooth on it the first time I drank out of it, and, if you were to trip or fall while taking a sip, I’m fairly confident that you would inadvertently administer your own tracheotomy.

Thirdly, again with the straw, how the heck are you supposed to clean the inside of it? You’d almost have to buy a set of pipe cleaners to get in there, since you can’t drop it in the dishwasher.

Sometimes I wonder how products like this made it to the market and are being accepted so widely.

That’ll buff out…

Often times, it is very important to momentarily “forget” existing technology in order to create something new (so that we do not carry forward any of the existing inefficiencies from the existing tools/products and we approach problems from a fresh perspective). This is an amazing skill (one that I really wish I was gifted with), but it must be used with a pinch of caution…

Today’s example, the staple gun:

I have many awful childhood memories of trying to use this horrid contraption when helping my dad work on our basement. It surely wasn’t built for children’s hands (or anyone else’s hands, for that matter).

When you push on the bottom of the lever (to get the most leverage), the top of the gun (from which the staple exists) may shift in position or get tilted, and the staple may miss its mark.

If only there were some way to overcome this issue and make a staple gun more ergonomic…but wait, there is!

Enter this little bad boy:

The way that this staple gun is designed, you get the most leverage where you have the most power (between your thumb and first finger), and the staple exits right where the most pressure is being applied (at the top of the gun [the bottom left of the picture]).

This design really is much better from an ergonomic/design perspective, but there is one major issue: People who are used to the non-ergonomic model are prone to holding the ergonomic model upside down and shooting a staple into their hands!

I know several folks who have had this happen to them. Since the ergonomic model is held ‘upside-down’ (with ‘upside-down’ only being defined by the pre-existing, non-ergonomic model), some folks, unsuccessfully, try to hold it ‘right-side up’.

It is for this reason that we must continue to evaluate our designs with regard to previously established perceptions to ensure that we do not defy or overwrite any assumptions that could lead to user injury (and putting a million warning labels on the product is not going to solve the issue).

Digitize Me!

In yet another brilliant blog post, Seth Godin reminds us that, as we advance in technology and technological solutions, we are to pave new ground and not just create a digital version of our existing analog reality.

Our new digital technologies offer us a plethora of new opportunities which was not previously possible; therefore, as Seth points out, we should not just create a parking meter with a digital interface, we should just create an entire digital system that IDs your plate when you park and bills you later for the exact amount of time you were there.

This led me to think about one of my pet peeves: KEY CHAIN LOYALTY CARDS (or even the ones that don’t go on your key chain).

Now, I have no issue with the concept of a loyalty card (from a customer or business perspective), but I have some issues with its execution.

Before the advent of digital, we had to use punch cards. “After 10 drinks, you get the 11th one free!” *punch* *punch* *punch* …but this has quickly turned into a land conquered by barcodes of many shapes and sizes.

The problem which still exists with this system is that the barcodes are still on physical loyalty cards!

As an example, a new frozen yogurt shop just opened up a few miles from me. My wife and I have gone there 3 or 4 times since it has opened, and, every time, I forget to bring my punch card. Now, they have offered to combine my cards if I bring the other ones in, but I keep on forgetting. This means, by the time I have 10 punches, I’ll also have 5-6 different punch cards.

I’m costing their business by receiving punch card after punch card (I know that it’s not a substantial expense, but everything adds up when you’re a new business), and it’s just plain wasteful.

The solution: (and this is, by no means, an amazing stretch of the imagination) Put it on my phone! I have my phone everywhere I go, and I look at it many times per day. How nice would it be for your icon to be right there on my screen? Instead of feeling anger when I can’t start my car because I have too many keychain loyalty cards in the way (or when I realize that I’m sitting at a 10 degree angle because my wallet is so fat from loyalty cards), I will most likely devote a screen on my ph0ne to “Loyalty Icons” – When I’m hungry, I’ll just swipe over to that screen and pick out a place to eat.

When I tap the icon, the barcode pops up for you to scan. It’s all linked to my account, and I can see how many more purchases before I get my free burrito without having to have you scan it for me.

As we’re creating digital solutions, we must be mindful to not drag the inefficiencies of the existing analog methods with us!!!

Awwww Rats.

Holy Cow! It’s going to come alive and try take over the world!!!

Actually, it’s  just the R.A.T. 7 gaming mouse, but I think Mad Catz has done a TON of things correctly with the design and marketing of this mouse, and their work is worthy of a quick case study.

As a side note, anyone who knows me knows that I’m addicted to computer peripherals, and that my love for mice is almost unparalleled (I’m currently rocking this baby and loving it).

So, let’s dive right in!

  • The features. This goes without saying, so I’m not going to dwell on it.
  • The look. Does the mouse need to look like it does in order to perform its function? There are some requirements (It needs to be in a shape that works well with a hand, with buttons somewhat located near where your fingers will end up), but nothing says it has to look like a cyborg hunter. The fact of the matter is that this mouse is made for gamers, so it needs to look like something that would appear in the next episode of Star Wars. Mission accomplished.
  • The website. CHECK IT OUT HERE!!! Again, you’re marketing to gamers who are intimately familiar with the webernetz, so you cannot skimp on the website! Once again, Mad Catz delivers. They have links to their products, blog, downloads, support, and contact at the top (which is somewhat expected, but the blog is a nice touch); they have a header that scrolls through pictures, they have an interactive 360 view of the mouse also in the header, they have their awards displayed, they have nice, big pictures, they have a sub heading with features, tech specs, a photo gallery and a “buy now” button (NICE!). Everything is clear, concise, bulleted, and perfectly aimed at the target audience.
  • The video. The piece de resistance. Watch it here. How many mice do you know with their own awesome video?!? Again, perfectly aimed at the target market, and well produced. This video was an excellent touch (it almost makes me hit the ‘buy it now’ button every time…)

What do you think of Mad Catz’s job with the RAT7 Gaming Mouse? What could they have done better?

Put Up Fences!

I love me a good piece of software – I think it comes with the territory of being a geek. I also love sharing these discoveries with others – I think that comes with the territory of being a didactic marketer/salesman!

Do you have so many icons on your desktop that you’ve forgotten what your desktop background looks like? Do you spend more than 5 seconds trying to find a specific icon on your desktop? Do you wish you had more organization of the icons on your desktop (beyond “Arrange by Name”)? Do you wish you could move entire blocks of icons at a time? Do you wish you could just double click and make all of your icons disappear?

Well, you’re in luck because today’s topic of discussion is Desktop Fences! …and they have a free version!!!

I fit into all of the categories above: I love a nice, clean desktop, but, since I’m working on several projects at once, I have a ton of shortcuts on my desktop.

Desktop Fences was an answer to my prayers, and I bet it can make your life easier too!

Here are the best features:

  • Simply click and drag to create a new “fence” on your desktop
  • Name your new fence
  • Just drag and drop icons into a fence
  • Click a fence header and drag it to move it and all of the related icons
  • Double click and your fences and icons disappear for a nice, clean desktop. Double click again and they come right back

…and, of course, there is a ton of customization available (from transparency levels to color scheme, etc).

Disclaimer (just to say I said it):  I still think that it’s a bad idea to store a bunch of documents on your desktop because, if your computer crashes, you’d lose everything, so I’d advise you (especially if you’re on a network), to keep all of your documents on the network, and create shortcuts to put into your new desktop fences.

Have you tried Desktop Fences? Any awesome software recommendations for me?

I hope you check out Desktop Fences and love it as much as I have!!!