Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Design Gotchas

Apple is known for its cool, innovative and user-friendly designs and rightly so: iPods and iPhones have revolutionized the otherwise lackluster electronic consumer product market. However, it is equally surprising when a design conscious company makes some very obvious design blunders. I recently bought an iMac and as much as I was amazed by the beauty of the product, I was disappointed to see the extra-ordinarily short keyboard and mouse wires. Even if I place the desktop at an arm length, the mouse wire comes really short. Sometimes I like to place the keyboard on the tray, in which case the keyboard wire falls short. Honestly, this is frustrating. Moreover, I was hoping to not get a laptop-sized keyboard with a Desktop computer. Maybe they could have packaged an ergonomically designed keyboard with Bluetooth (so that I can reduce the wire clutter on the table).

I am reminded of another product design annoyance from an otherwise design conscious company - Ikea. Ikea never stops to amaze the new shopper setting a step in their store and even for the regular shoppers it is a pleasant experience looking at the diverse and beautifully arranged room settings. On my first visit several years back, while I was enjoying the unique experience, I remember almost feeling disoriented in the big showroom; easy navigation in a store with large real estate is a rare phenomenon. In any case, the design gotcha that was most glaringly obvious was when I went to the check-out counter. The conveyor belt was quite narrow and it was difficult to place even modestly small items on the belt. It could be a small thing but it was definitely a bit annoying to try manage putting all the products on the belt. If you have been to Ikea, I'd be interested in knowing your thoughts.

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