Jez's Blog

The Strange Story of How I Found a New Band

A Salute to My Influences

Celebrating Our Differences

Daring to Use the Four-Letter Word

What Is The Real Olympian Spirit?

Watching The Olympics Opening Ceremony

How Good Service Turned into a Speed Trip

Blurring the Line Between Fact and Fiction

How Creativity Keeps Moving On

How an Artist in the Kitchen Revealed my Inner 'Foody'

Synchronicity - an Everyday Sort of Magic

Does This Make You Laugh?

The Magic of Storytelling

How Good Design Serves the User

Learning to Love Creative Blocks

Creating The CLUB

How a Kiss Missed Its Target at a Posh Do

How Bob Dylan refused the Box labelled ‘Protest Singer’

The ‘Get Back in Your Box’ Syndrome

What’s all the fuss about?

Reflections on Learning and Teaching

The Third in my Triptych of Entries about Thought

Happily disconnected in Cornwall

The Best Way to Sell is to Do Something Well

Life is Good

Zen & the Art of Birdwatching

How Good Design Serves the User

A few years ago I bought a new car. When I went out in it for one of the first times, I noticed that I felt particularly comfortable driving it. It wasn’t just the thrill of a new car or anything technical like the suspension or the engine, it was something very physical. Gradually I tracked down the  feeling; it was something to do with my grip on the steering wheel. That's when I discovered the answer - underneath each hand, at the exact point where they naturally hold the wheel, was a small but perfectly formed swelling. These bumps fitted beautifully into the palms of each of my hands so that holding the wheel felt totally natural, something akin to the feeling of putting your hand inside a glove. Someone somewhere had an inspiration, an idea of how to make a steering wheel fit a human being that bit better than they did before. What a stroke of genius, so simple and effective. That’s what good design is all about, the mixture of function and form.




Bad design can be as annoying as good design can be pleasing. I once made the mistake of being 'sucked in' by the hype which surrounded a very famous brand of vacuum cleaner and fell into the trap of buying one. What happens when we  ‘believe the hype' like this? I suppose the advertising pitch gets inside our subconscious to such an extent that we give up our own sense of judgment in favour of what the company wants us to believe about the product.  This is not something I would usually fall prey to but in retrospect I think my fatal mistake was that I really wanted to believe all the amazing things they were saying about the product. You know the claims - 'no bag, more suction' - a fantastic idea, less paper waste, more energy efficiency. I was so impressed that  I even overlooked the the garish plastic look of this high powered beast, something which would normally have ruled it out as an option. When I got it home I soon discovered that, yes, it had amazing suction, but it had something else as well. When switched on, it  sounded like a jet engine at full throttle - not something you want in your living room! It was so loud and at such a pitch that it was physically painful. On top of this, the equipment and means of using it was so complicated that it took a whole booklet to explain it to you. Hoses had to be reversed and slotted in depending on room or stair use, accessories pulled out of the body. By the time I came to use it the following week I’d forgotten it all. My wife actually refused to use it and I ended up taking it to a charity shop, to be sold as new. This is the effect of bad design! It's not that the hype was a total lie - I’m sure this product was more powerful and more environmentally friendly - but good design surely has to take in to account all factors regarding its use. What good is a powerful vacuum cleaner if it is so noisy that you don’t want to turn it on!


Why am I thinking about design? Because I’m currently redesigning the whole look of The CLUB. Whilst its design didn't 'suck' like the garish vacuum cleaner, for me it wasn't quite falling into the 'ease of use and beautiful to look at' category of the steering wheel. I wanted to tell you why this was and what changes I'm going to make to bring about a total new look to the site but  I was so inspired by the subject of design that I used up all this space. You’ll have to wait until next time to hear all about  it. In the meantime, if you'd like to share with fellow members your favourite items of design which help your life run that little bit more smoothly, beautifully (or both) please leave your comments here.


September 23rd 2011

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