In my work as interaction designer I get a lot of questions about the definition and meaning of UX (design). Mostly I tend to explain this by showing them examples from their own context. Call it work deformation or enthusiasm, but everywhere I come, I’m looking for examples. And sometimes I find little gems that I snap with my phone into a picture. This blog is about one of the recent ones I found.
Last week I ran into a new waste disposal system. Instantly I felt the urge to do something about it. This system was clearly lacking of clues of what to put where as I found batteries (chemicals) in the GFT (organic waste) bin. By adding simple clues (guiding), these mistakes can be prevented.
So let’s have a look at the current state: the problem. As you can see in the picture below, the system is a large container with some holes that match the labels on the front cover. To demonstrate what can go wrong with this design, let’s execute a task so we have a goal to use this thing.
“Get rid of the the banana peel”. That sounds like a simple task. And it should be.
As a person tries to solve a problem, a mental model is formed. A metal model is an imaginary (visual) representation of the solution for the problem based on earlier experiences. As these experiences are different for each person, so are the mental models.
For example a mental model could be formed based on the front cover by counting the colored sections and mapping that structure to the top of the container. This is most likely the mental model the designers had in mind.
But humans are creative and excellent in defining structures in visual information. Someone could map the position of the label (a colored section) to the distance of the hole on top. And that’s when batteries end up with the organic waste.
To prevent this error, the design needs to guide the forming of the user’s mental model. Designing for recognition. I created a mockup of my idea how to fix this in a simple way.
As shown in the mockup, I added two references: one for color and one for shape.
This example demonstrates how a small change in design may prevent errors in the useage of a product. Nobody wants to put batteries in the organic waste bin.
Small changes that bring great improvements is just one the values of each UX-designer. Their solutions/designs look rather simple and will most likely have you slap your forehead. Simple solutions are often cheap to process, but hard to envision.
Are you interested how UX Design can help you to improve your products or design? Please use the contact box at the side and will get in touch with you soonest.
Author: Bert de Weerd, Interaction Designer