Usability | Packaging Design
  June, 2014

Beauty vs. Usability: What’s your pick, guys?

Hari Nallan

The other day when I went to buy shoe buffer, I was quite impressed with the design of Kiwi packaging. Conventional wisdom says that it has got everything right (in its competitive context). Putting it against its competition, Cherry, you'd appreciate its contemporary form, translucent top shell (with some seemingly ergonomic details), hook on top (I don't know if anybody is going to hang it in their homes, but it adds to its visibility in supermarket display I think) and relevance of color (black) to the shoes we wear.

I bought it (the one on the left is my older one) and started using it. A couple of weeks down the line, I'm finding it tough to use, because the design is a disaster when it comes to "findability". Its more or less a dormant product in actual usage in the sense that it is going to be kept inside a shoe rack. Immediately, all the reasons that compelled me to buy it have failed in its actual usage.

As you can see in the image on the right, the very color, texture, transparency etc., work against it when I have to find it. I actually still use more of my old product because I find it immediately. Also, because it is inconspicuous, it gets further pushed to the back since the user putting his shoes in the rack after returning home inadvertently pushes it further as he doesn't notice it.

When I come to think of it, I wonder if the product was designed to grab attention in the supermarket shelf or to help users in actually using it. This speaks volumes about the perils of designing products that do not serve user need, but seemingly serve business purpose. The design failed in both fronts as I'm very unlikely to buy it again!

Hari Nallan

Hari Nallan

Founder and CEO of Think Design, a User Experience strategist, Designer, Speaker and Educator. Think Design is a Leading Design consultancy with offices in Denver, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru; and collaborates with visionary organisations to identify, build and materialise innovative products and services.


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