This is impossible to open! I wonder if the product manager has ever tried this product!
Has something like this happened to you?
I think it’s pretty likely.
Recently I was trying a new product. I didn’t have a good experience.
For sake of the short post I won’t go deeper in details. The point is that sometimes common users face complications when using or consuming products trying to get done some job they need to get done. My complication was a mechanical feature impossible to understand and it was just very hard not to remember several occasions when friends of mine told me about some unconformities they had with some products.
For example, I remember this guy who was very upset with a certain brand of cereal, which delivered the product packed in a sealed plastic back inside of a carton box.
He said: It’s just impossible to open that bag! You need to pull really hard both sides of the bag to open it, or you need to have some scissors available, if you don’t have the bloody scissors you pull so hard that you end up tearing the bag so badly that the whole content explodes out of it! Has somebody within the company ever tried to eat their own cereal?????
I understood him, it has happened to me. And it’s annoying.
The problem is that when designing a new product companies get into a traditional war between engineers and designers that seems to have no proper ending. The problem indeed is that the conception of the product has to propose a certain solution for its future consumers right? So it has to do a job for the user and it has to look good.
Sometimes design come over functionality as it happens for example with heels for women, I would never imagine things like that are supposedly produced for walking on them! However thousands of girls would love to wear some uncomfortable things like that as their shoes. Design is our winner here.
Regarding the majority of product design cases, after this mentioned relationship between engineers and designers, a prototype should be built to assess the functionality of the product and then to test possible reactions in the market.
I think here is the problem. Who does the testing? People within the company with previous knowledge of the functionality who end up giving a biased feed back?
In simple cases like the cereal one, is there a testing for the bags containing the product? Or is it something taken for granted: “the bag should be properly sealed”?
The problem is a bit complex due to the overall requirements it brings with it like many people involved, budget constraints, deadlines for launching times, etc. BUT: I really think there is a simple way to improve these simple problems and I call it “DO IT YOURSELF for managers” and it is that simple.
We know about DIY concept. You get your stuff in pieces and build whatever you need. (IKEA offers this).
It implies some aspects: In US, where it was more successful during 1950 to 1970’s, it grew mostly in the home improvement market because it was expensive to hire handy men to do craftsmanship, so people got used to DIY things. Price was the main driver here. On the other hand some people did it, and still do it, because they enjoy doing it and actually what they buy is a whole experience. And there is the key:
DIY for managers.
Managers need to try what they sell so they can live the experience themselves. I am aware this could bring some biased judges to the functionality or aesthetics aspects of the product, so managers should try products their companies produce and sell regardless the expertise of the people doing it themselves. That way managers from IT department should try a new cleaning product and then share their feedback. Accountant managers should try a product they are not used to and bring their comments about how the work those products are supposed to do actually gets done. I think it’s not hard to implement a “DIY for managers” programme in any company and make improvements based on it. And innovations.
Apart from testing the “use” of a product, a “packing” stage should be assessed too. This would be clear for those who have bought camping gear, products which after being taken out of the original package are just impossible to put back in it again.
Have you had similar “bad” experiences?