Design inspiration is often sought in the latest and greatest design examples floating around the web and in the slick pages of design magazines. But sometimes the items that are part of our everyday, the ones that enhance our daily tasks, are the items that can provide inspiration and bring our focus back to who and what we’re designing for.
Along with the millions of other commuters in Toronto, Canada, I travel to and from work on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) each day and for various reasons my payment method of choice is the token. After years of hurriedly digging through my coin purse to find a tiny token (which tends to deek and hide among the similarly sized dimes) in the rush to get on the streetcar, I’ve found a sense of calm and appreciation with the acquisition of a simple gadget – the Rocket Wheel.
The Rocket Wheel (named after the commonly used nickname for the TTC, the “Red Rocket”) is a plastic token holder created by Spacing Magazine in 2012 as a promotional product (http://spacingstore.ca/products/rocket-wheel-token-holder). It’s a simple rounded pentagon that holds 10 tokens. Only 1,500 units were made so those who were able to snatch one up are holding on tightly.
1. It’s tactile. The shape and size fit perfectly in the palm of the hand, and the smooth rounded edges make it comfortable to hold.
2. It’s intuitive. Each token sits on a little spring so you simply need to push down on a token to allow it to slide out. It only takes a quick moment to understand this interaction the first time. No instructions required.
3. I’m not embarrassed to use it. Visual design doesn’t always need to incite the “wow” factor. The beauty of the Rocket Wheel is in it’s simplicity. It’s not covered in design flourishes or flashy graphics to make it seem cutting edge.
4. It makes sense. Five tokens on each side makes this perfect for the average commuter travelling to and from their destination five days a week. Visually, you can glance at the wheel and know you have ten tokens without needing to count.
Content and context play a big role in the success of a design. Specifically in website and intranet design, we designers often rely on placeholder content to work out our layout and design but it’s important to give good and careful consideration to the real content that will eventually fill the pages. Look at your design in progress and ask yourself questions like, ‘Will this headline type style suit longer headlines?’ and ‘Will this image area be difficult to use (if it’s an abnormal shape, your client may have trouble sourcing suitable photography)?’ Whenever there is existing content, place it in the design to reveal any potential problems that may arise.
So what are some everyday objects that enhance your daily routine? Does good design play a role in their success?
Siobhan Kennedy is a Senior Designer at Akendi, a firm dedicated to creating intentional experiences through end-to-end experience design. To learn more about Akendi or user experience design, visit www.akendi.com.
Akendi is a product strategy, user experience design and usability research firm. We are passionate about the creation of intentional experiences – whether those involve digital products, physical products, mobile, service or bricks-and-mortar interactions. We work shoulder-to-shoulder to optimize the experiences you deliver. Akendi Corporate Overview (PDF).
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