physical product

Challenge 17 of 52: Safety Baby Bath Tub

When you become a father, suddenly there’s so many things to keep an eye on. Things that we took for granted can be downright dangerous (and fatal) to newborns. This is true even for routine task such as bathing the baby.

The recommended practice is to fill the bath tub with cool water first before finally adding the hot water. Only then we start to bathe the baby. But then, general inexperience plus sleep deprivation can make you forgot the standard practice.

Looking at the IKEA bath tub we had, the green lines grabbed my attention. It already play a role in safety by preventing the bath tub from slipping. It’ll be better if it can indicate the water temperature – green for ideal temperature, blue for too cold and red for too hot. I’m sure it’ll be a hot product among new parents!

Challenge 16 0f 52: TV Input UI

Taking early paternal leave made me sort of a TV junkie. As I also cleared my schedule from meetings and projects, suddenly I find myself spending much more time in front of TV. Naturally, I spotted a few things to improve about the device UI.

With so many set-top boxes connected to the TV, figuring out the connection can be a daunting task. Physically, there’s so many ports and there’s no clear label. Many are only labelled with embossed plastic text which is hard to read since it’s the same color as the device. The solution should be bright color-coded label to mark all the various ports

Once connected to the TV, the UI is not helpful either. The on-screen label simply says HDMI 1, HDMI 2, and so on. It’s certainly not very helpful for most user. The UI should be more proactive by asking the user what is the connected to each port when a new connection is made. Certainly it’s not that hard to provide soft label for DVD, Blu-Ray, Cable, Laptop, Game and so on.

Even better, the TV can have a connection map screen in the menu. It will display all the devices that is currently connected to the TV according to the physical location of the ports.

Challege 15 of 52: Electrical Appliance Remote Control

For an interface that we use every day, electrical appliance remote control is an annoying lot. There’s too many button, uncomfortable shape and ambigous label. But then, the most annoying part is the connection between the remote and the appliance itself.

Infrared remote control is a technology is a technology that is older than myself – antic in term of gadget age. The biggest drawback of this connection is that it requires clear line of sight. These days, with cramped living room and odd corners it’s quite a hard reach.

There’s not much problem for TV, but set top boxes are routinely obscured by other furnitures or other trinkets that line the cupboard. It’s even worse for air-conditioner unit which usually end up in a corner that don’t have clear line of sight from the bed or couch.

So, what’s the solution? Bluetooth seems like a good candidate. Phones have generally replaced IR with Bluetooth for the past few years. It’s a shame that remote controls didn’t follow suit. However, pairing procedure can be rather frustrating and the phelotra of bluetooth services in the protocol make it harder still.

Combining Bluetooth with NFC can be a star combination. Just tap the remote with the device and it will seamlessly pair the two. It will be handy when you need to borrow the remote and use it with another device. After all, remote controls do have a bad habit of hiding themselves.

Challenge 14 of 52: Laptop Sleeve

Let’s start with a basic laptop sleeve. I reckon many people are already familiar with this. Some have zippers, flaps or buttons to secure the content. However, that’s not my concern today. I’m fairly dissatisfied with the current design since it doesn’t factor in the usual usage.

Laptops rarely works alone, at least it must have power adaptor to achieve a meaningful working time. External hard disks, mobile hotspots are also the usual suspects. However, laptop sleeves usually didn’t have any decent place for them. Some user just jam those stuffs into the sleeve anyway and create an unisghtly bulge. Not to mention the risk of scratching the precious stuffs inside.

My proposed solution is simple, just have one strap on the sleeve. This will allow accessory pouches to be attached securely. Perhaps some user will crowd the strap and make it look like Batman’s utility belt but I just want one pouch to put my power adapter.

Challenge 13 of 52: Chatime Menu

Sometimes, UX problem crops up due to the pace of innovation. This grotesque menu is the victim of Chatime’s success in creating so many variation of beverages. The dense menu is frankly intimidating to new customers and made old customers stick to whatever drink they tasted before. That’s a waste since it will discourage new customers and make it difficult to increase revenue per customer.
Personally, I hesitated several time before buying anything from Chatime until I’m guided by a friend who patronized Chatime in Australia before. Even that he sticks from whatever he bought before and I only picked among the featured drinks. I consider myself fairly adventurous when it come to food and drinks so Chatime barrier seems disporpotionately high.
There’s some visual hierarchy in this menu. The top bar features flagship drinks and this is a saving feature. Customers usually just order from the featured line. But then, more adventurous customers and those who don’t like any of the feature drinks will have a hard time navigating the ala-carte menu.
A clear visual hierachy is missing here, choice of drinks and their personalization options sits on the same level and only separated by different color blocks. This is a stark contrast to Subway’s logical layout that guides customers step-by-step; from bread, filling, cheese, condiments, sauces and sides.
Thus, a better menu design should guide the customers step-by-step. From the base drink, to sugar and ice options. Finally, the upsell to toppings. This should make it easier for new and old customers alike.

Challenge 12 of 52: Cheese Powder Packaging

Few weeks back, Mr. Haris Faizal come to me for some business advice. He’s also one of RoketSMS early customers. His product is an instant Cheese Powder and below is his current packaging.

So, what are we going to do with this packaging? Mr. Haris aims to double his sale and design is one of the area to be tackled. He reported that a number of grocery shops rejected his product because of the lackluster design.

Changing the packaging from simple plastic pack to box is too expensive for him so we need to work around the sticker. The current design is too cluttered so the first thing to do is to bring some visual hierarchy to the design. Lower part of the current design looks like a mass of nonsensical text due to the use of same font size for all type of information. The instruction, ingredients, distributor information and expiry date is all jumbled up together.

The obvious thing to do is to make the Ingredients section smaller because it is there just for compliance sake. Focus should be given to the instruction because there lies the value proposition of the product. Consumers are buying convenience here so the packaging need to sell how easy it is to prepare the cheese dip.

This is further reinforced from customer frequent question which is do they need to cook it on the stove? Actually, they just need add hot water. Thus, the instruction should be made crystal clear and hightlight ‘Just Add Hot Water’. Also, change the name of the product to Instant Cheese Powder for good measure.

Challenge 3 of 52: Samsung Charger

I think we all can relate to this problem. So many chargers to bring and each one is such a mess. Sprawling and tangled cable is the norm.
In thinking up a solution for this one, first I observe what the current design already allow the users to do. It turns out you can perfectly wind the cable around the charger body. However, there’s no way to secure the tightly wound cable from unraveling. It can sit still on the table but most users would like to bring it in a bag and not making such a mess later.
Since this is a failure of the last mile, my proposed solution is just a small tweak. A small clip will allow the charger head to secure itself to the wound up cable and prevent the whole thing from unraveling. Then users can happily toss it in the bag and carry on.