Sunday, March 18, 2007

2 Bad odours design

Is it all about marketing? I don't know... Ergoprojects published an article about User Centered Design with all that blah blah we know, but we often forget: Marketing studies are just that: marketing studies, they have limited use during the design process. We need special studies, observation and tests to get real usability design guidelines. The design team should not be regarded as user(s), because they are already biased with certain knowledge about how the item works, how it should be assembled, and used. We need to survey real "street" users that are unfamiliar with the new product, etc, etc. It all sounds great, but we also see that a good marketing strategy can generate great success. Today's example: Unilever's Axe / Lynx deodorants.

We have to remember that at the time of the launching of the Axe brand, most of the spray can deodorants were gone (because of the Ozone damage) and there was only stick bar deodorants. There was even a Baking soda rock! Anyway, Unilever had little or no competitors, and they launched a very aggressive and insisting campaign using the so called "oddvertising" (more on that later). After some time they called it: "the Lynx effect" and we must admit that at some stage, we all have been brain washed with hours, and hours of their ads on TV, Who doesn't remember the elevator ad?. My question is, if their success was from the fact that they didn't have so much competition, or because they had a good product, or because of the constant oddvertising... or all 3!

Anyway, since a couple of months, they changed or updated some of their cans. They redesigned the spray nozzle to make it look modern or softly stylized. However, it is a bad design from an ergonomics point of view. Why? Well, because you don't hold the can as if you were painting graffiti on a wall, or pepper spraying the eyes of someone else. In fact, the hand holding the can is on a very weird (twisted) position when you spray your armpits or your chest... perhaps the finger cavity on the nozzle should be diagonal, or just flat (as the old design). The new design is not only anatomically (ergonomic) incorrect, it's also hard to operate... I mean, it's harder to get it to work, even with your finger positioned on the button following the shape of the design, you have to press harder. You see, not everything that looks ergonomic because it's rounded and organic, it's actually ergonomic and usable.

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Blogger Shelly said...

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8:39 AM  
Blogger Fernando Vallejo said...

Hi Shelly,

Thanks for suggesting that... the banner is already on the sidebar. Hope I get listed.


12:06 AM  

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