Don Norman’s book “Design of Everyday Things” taught me the importance of usability, and his book on “Emotional Design” taught me the critical role that aesthetics play in overall user experience. When I see designs that beautifully unite both usability and aesthetics, I smile and want to share with the world…
The Last Drop Bottle
It such a common and annoying problem when you try to squeeze out the last little bit of remaining Shampoo or body wash from the bottle. You don’t want to waste it but it takes such an effort to pump the remaining liquid out.
A new design for the bottom of the bottles is to help users get the last drop. (see the above image on the right) The bottom of the container is designed in a way that the finishing liquids are stored in a cone following by slopes both side where the dispenser can easily reach and let the user to have even the last drop of liquid. The container is beautifully designed to enhance the bathroom décor and lets the user to see how much more liquids are left inside.
Wall Art Chair
I’m a fan of multi-purpose objects such as Swiss army knife, combination highlighter/pens, smart phones, etc. Although multi-purposed objects are like jack of all trades, they are often being criticized as not good at any of the trades. For example, a smart phone usually has a camera attached to it, but it’s not a very good camera. The Wall Chair example below is inspiring to me because it let me think about art in a more practical way. We are not just design to decorate but design with usage in mind. The next step to this design would be making the folding chair more comfortable.
Living room space is limited and especially for those of us who are living in big cities and renting small apartments. We can’t afford to have extra chairs lying around but at the same time, we find ourselves having no chairs hosting our guests. Similar problem holds for public space as well. Traditional folding chairs are not attractive when folded and occupied space.
“The first foldable cantilever chair, goes from wall art to functional furniture with a flick of the wrist. With an inspiring take on the maximization of space and the transformation of an object from 2D to 3D, it epitomizes designer Dror Benshetrit’s vision: the emotion of art intertwined with simple poetics of form following function.”
Source: Wall Art Chair
Windows 7 Snap Feature
Going from physical design examples to software design examples, I have to say “Snap” is my favorite UI feature in Windows 7. It makes one of my most common activities on the computer easy and beautiful.
Window management is a common task, and often times you need to put two windows side-by-side. For example, copying and pasting text from a webpage to a document. Another example is dragging files from your computer and dropping them to your external hard drive. These are activities you do many times a day and you want to do them very fast. Before Windows 7, you need to manually scale the windows and put them side-by-side, which may take several seconds depending on how perfect you want the windows to line up.
“Snap” is a quick (and fun) way to resize open windows, simply by dragging them to the edges of your screen. This makes the side-by-side comparison of windows really easy. The visual design supports the “snapping” interaction by giving a preview of a transparent window to show how the window would snap.
Again, this is a great example of uniting aesthetics and usability.
There are many beautiful designs with usage in mind examples, which I hope to share with you in future posts. At the same time, there are a lot of designs only focusing on aesthetics (too pretty for the users to figure out how to use them) or usability (too boring that users feel like chores to use them). When you design or build your technology solutions, think about how you can create usable and beautiful design.