Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Devil is in the details

We all love products that are designed well.  A well designed pair of shoes don't even seem to be there.  A well designed corkscrew works exactly how you think it will work.  A well designed user interface is intuitive and feels second nature. 

Some designs are so bad that you immediately notice the flaw.  Like a video camera lens that whines as you zoom in and out.  Some are not so obvious.  It is when the design misses the mark to deliver on the promise that you notice the flaw. 

This is where good usecases come into picture.  The set of usecases for a product should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (MECE).  If any usecase is missed, usability suffers and the customer fails to be delighted.

BMWs are well designed cars, inside and out.  They are beautiful to look at; they are fun to drive; they are comfortable.  There is a lot of room for improvement on the user interface on the inside, though.  That is another blog post.  Today, we are looking at the exterior body design. 

As you can notice in the photo above, there is a lot of dust and dirt on the top of the rear bumper (arrow) whereas the entire car is clean and shiny.  All the surfaces of the car are slanting downwards at some angle, whereas the bumper top is not.  Because of this, dirt and rain water collect on top of the bumper rather than being washed away.  Angling the bumper slightly down (0.5 - 1 deg) could have easily done the job.  But, they missed it.  Maybe, the designer thought that a flat bumper top would let the user keep things on it while opening the trunk or when the trunk is open.  You can still do it with a slight angle.

This is an example of missing one of the key usecases.  It is important to list out all possible usecases for a product and test for it.  That is when you make a delightful product.