May 10

Pickle Jar: Affordances and Innovation

Last night I had a rough time opening a jar of pickles.  I exerted quite a bit of effort to finally pop the lid.  It made me think of my grandmother (who passed a few years ago).  She lived alone for quite a while.  As she got older, and a little sicker, she seemed to eat less and less.  And I think her diet suffered quite a bit.

With the baby boomers aging into the retired and elderly phases of life I think about the pickle jar.  How many objects don’t have elderly-friendly affordances?  The old-time canning jar (and versions of it like the pickle, olive, etc) hasn’t progressed much.  They are innovating around refrigerator boxes of beer and soda, beer bottles that supposedly make the beer taste better, easy flow ketchup, etc.  But what about making it easier to for people who it isn’t easy for?

I bet my grandmother started to select food items at the grocery store she knew she could open.  As much as she loved pickles, I bet she stopped buying them.

As any parent knows, another big packaging issue is toys.  So many boxes are impossible to open (and this extends to many products that require knives to break through the plastic shell).  And then the toy itself is fastened with plastic coated metal twist ties.  Tens of them.  Not only is it a pain to open — you’ve got all these choke hazards lying around.

Instead of innovating around package design to either stand out or increase consumption — why not focus some effort on facilitating use in the first place.  Innovate around your product affordances… create them or make them better.

Feb 10

Damn Smashing Is Good

Over and over Smashing Magazine produces great stuff.

Jan 09


Every once in a while I come across a blog/site that, in every post, inspires me, challenges me, engages me.  S&W’s Pulse Laser, found on links from Kottke, is my source today — and about 5 posts in, the best combination of 5 posts, topics, concepts, themes yet.  How can I work with these guys?