Bad Design #53 – it’s a lottery

Design is (or should be) everywhere, not just in products.

When people think of design, they think of products. But products are not the only things that require designing. Services, processes, cities, assembly lines, communications, lighting, farming, interactions, hospitals, the list goes on and on. All of these things need to be designed. Basically designers need to be engaged in every aspect of our lives.

In this article we will look at the process of buying a product.

The process of buying needs to be “designed”, just as the product itself needs to be designed. Unfortunately companies producing the product often overlook this part, and it is the consumer that suffers in the end. The most important person in the entire development cycle, the user.

Let us take the “simple” act of buying in-ear headphones.

You decide you want to buy in-ear headphones, you walk into your nearest gadget shop, and you stroll up to the headphone section. You are met with a wall of in-ear headphone options. Great!

They are all beautifully packaged, and doing whatever they can to lure you towards them. Some are shiny, some a matte. Some are colourful, some black and white. Some have flip lids to let you see them behind the clear plastic, and some simply have photos of how good they look on people sexier than you (hahaha).

But there is a problem here..

You cannot try them on….none of them.

Headphones are all about the sound, the treble, the bass, the volume, the quality, the clarity, the highs, the lows, the mids, the all absorbing consuming experience. How are we supposed to decide which product delivers the best on any of these points, if we cannot try them out? It is impossible.

Oh, but this one is red! Oh, but this one is made by a “trusted” company! Oh, but this one lasts 12hrs! Oh, but this one is waterproof! Oh, but this one wraps around your ears! Oh…Oh..Oh…Whatever! You’re missing the point. Headphones are must-try product. Full stop. How in the world in-ear headphones have managed to sell, and increase in sales, without the ability to try them out first, is sad glimpse into the human psyche.

Yes, I understand hygiene is an issue with in-ear headphones. Therefore, giving the consumer the ability to try the device before purchasing it, is a challenge.

But there in lies the opportunity!

Every problem, is an opportunity.

Design a way for consumers to try in-ear headphones before purchasing them, and you can bet your sales will skyrocket.

Just look at how other industries are dealing with similar problems, and see if you can implement something similar.

When we buy swimwear, we put them over our underwear. When we rent helmets, we wear hair nets. When doctors and dentists reuse tools, they sterilise them. Even when we are trying out new partners, we wear condoms!

There is a solution, companies just need to be bothered to look for it.


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