Design in daily life
I was asked to rank my 3 best and 3 worst user experiences ever with a product or a service, confront them with established design principles and conclude by writing on how design usability may affect our daily life.
At least for the duration of this exercise, I’ve decided to divert from my customary digital screens, to go back to the physical world. According to Braun’s designer, Dieter Rams, good design is (1) innovative, (2) makes a product useful, (3) is aesthetic, (4) makes a product understandable, (5) is unobtrusive, (6) is honest, (7) is long-lasting, (8) is thorough,(9) is environmentally friendly and (10) is as little as possible.
My 3 best user experiences
The car phone holder
I know that nowadays most city people don’t own a car, but I do. More than a decade ago, the mobile app Waze tremendously helped drivers navigate, while at the same time the law banned holding a phone behind the steering wheel. A paradox that some smart designers resolved by creating the car phone holder. It simply clings to the ventilation grids right in the driver’s eyesight, allowing the use of Waze — or even Spotify — without holding the phone. It probably meets all Dieter Ram’s criteria, except the design is not the most aesthetic and not environmentally friendly as it encourages car driving. I use this every time I’m driving.
The hygiene water bottle
I’ve been playing football — or “soccer” for our American friends — my whole life. I spend 2 hours playing vigorously every Saturday so I need to hydrate a lot. No more disposable plastic bottles (trying to be eco-conscious), I’ve been drinking reusable flasks, but soon I got concerned about hygiene and sucking that plug with my mouth. Some smart designers created the ideal compromise for me: the hygiene water bottle. Just place your chin on the edge of the bottle, open your mouth and squeeze. You don’t even have to make your head fall backwards. The design surely meets all Dieter Ram’s criteria. I use this every time I’m playing.
The electric toothbrush
This changed my teeth brushing entirely. Compared to the manual brushing, the electric one is more effective. The brush seems to last longer and it can easily be replaced by a new one as they are standards. The design surely meets all other Dieter Ram’s criteria. Now, I only use this and it just does not feel right brushing my teeth manually whenever I can’t do otherwise. I use this… twice a day minimum!
My 3 worst user experiences
They’ve been all over the place — at least in Paris — and let’s call a spade a spade: it’s anarchy. Dangerous, not convenient if you need to carry a bag and ridiculously looking. With regards to Dieter Ram’s criteria, the design is not aesthetic, not unobtrusive and contrary to the common preconception NOT environmentally friendly (just inquire about how lithium batteries are made). Only enjoyable at summertime for several rides. That was my maximum use.
As a music lover, I’m constantly listening to music, even when I’m doing sports. The bluetooth technology brought a new generation of convenient wireless earbuds. The in-ear system, however, just does not fit me: the in-earbuds feel weird, they never stay in perfectly and sometimes 1 of the 2 just turns off for no reason. With regards to Dieter Ram’s criteria, the design does not always make the product understandable and is not unobtrusive — at least not in my ears. I’m still using them, but I’m waiting for designers involved in this business to improve their product design.
Airport single walkways
I love traveling and I’ve been seeing airport single walkways across the world for years. The few times I used those, it always felt like I was a sheep being led to the slaughterhouse. Side note to the designers: make them double and not single (there will always be some elderly standing still) and fast (I often walk faster sidestepping them). Obviously, being young and foolish, I always sidestep them. With regards to Dieter Ram’s criteria, the design is not unobtrusive, not completely thorough and clearly not environmentally friendly.
With such exercise, I’ve learned to apply design principles to my daily life, how to analyze a good versus a bad user experience, think out of the box and review critically the design of my environment. Overall, this made me realize how much design usability affects my habits. On the one hand, I was amused to think about my everyday practices that have become so self-evident and intuitive that I had missed the design work behind them and re-think about these, this time with the basis of their design in mind — “invisible” is surely a criteria for my own definition of great design. On the other hand, I did not mind acting as the typical French complainer by recalling past frustrating experiences.
Thank you for reading me!