Saturday, November 1, 2008

This Is Brilliant

You can accuse me of living under a rock because I haven't seen one of these before, but this is absolutely brilliant. I just bought a new contact grill and take a look at the plug on the cord set. For all of you designers out there who bemoan the "stupidity" of consumers, how they won't follow directions, bla bla bla, take note of this simple design solution. 

The problem is as old as electric products themselves. People grab the cord rather than the plug to unplug an appliance, eventually ruining the cord. 

The conventional solution: warn people not to do this. Put it in the instruction manual. Get irritated at them and call them stupid for ignoring this warning.

The brilliant solution: Breville's designers designed the plug with a convenient hole to hook a finger into. Yes, I know there are plugs with flanges that provide good affordances for pulling. My Dyson has one of these:

Sure, either of these affordances could be ignored, but the shape of the Breville plug, top, invites us to use it in the way the designers intend. It's a message from the designer: "Here's something helpful. I'm thinking of you."

Moral of the story. Design things to accommodate what your customer actually does, rather than what you think they should do. Give, in a spirit of generosity. Remember Eva Zeisel and her message to us: Design is a gift across time from the one who made it to the one who receives it.


Laurie said...

Fabulous idea. Design made to work with the way people behave.

Human behavior always fascinates me.
For example, I notice no matter how many design features can be included to work more effectively, stay more organized, keep clutter free, people still leave things out in the open and tend to forget the things put away in organized spaces.

Will good design coax people to work and live better? Or are humans destined to habit?

Katherine Bennett said...

Laurie, I've always thought that good design understands people and accommodates them generously and hospitably. Good designers can enable people to work and live better by providing what they need and what they truly find useful.

Arrogant designers, on the other hand, often impose their view on people and their designs may not be so useful.