Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Usability of Packaging

Usability of Packaging

By Denis M. Sweeney
February 14, 2012

My desk is not an uncluttered surface, and I know I'm not alone. Today, I happened to have both of these fine products on my desk today... Afrin nasal inhaler and Gorilla Glue... both about the same size and shape... what could possibly go wrong?!

Reach for that and spray it up your nose...What could possibly go wrong?
This is about Usability in every day life. Both manufacturers needed an easy dispenser for their product. But if I had to point a finger of blame/shame, I'd probably point it at Gorilla Glue. I would think that you would want a glue dispenser to look VERY different from (the older, more established) nasal spray bottles! I mean isn't there enough trouble with kids huffing chemicals that you need to put your product in an "easy-sniff" bottle?!

In the usability world, we try to establish and stick to a logical set of rules so users aren't surprised by buttons where they don't expect them, or doing steps in an odd order.

The other big glue product that comes to mind is Elmer's Glue-All. --How does it compare?
Elmer's glue does sport the same basic shape, but what it has going for it, is that the orange part of the cap is not removable, and its iconic, bright colors make it unmistakable as glue.
Our old friend, Elmer's Glue

What if nail polish remover was packaged in bottles that resembled children's sippy cups? I only say it to make the point that, just like glue in a spray bottle form, it's a horrible idea!

If Gorilla Glue shipped with a stay-on cap, I think that would go a long way to avoiding possible confusion.
I know the Darwin Award fans among us believe that mistakes like this "thin out the herd" but I think the responsibility falls on the manufacturer to make their product packaging unique to address this kind of issue.
Stupid stuff does happen, all the time, to everyone. All I'm saying is that manufacturers should think about this kind of thing. Clearly there isn't a government agency responsible for checking to see whether medicine and glue manufacturers are using the same/similar packaging but it should be on somebody's radar.

Just as I'm completing my rant, I was adding some links to the companies mentioned in here, and what do I find?! --Gorilla Glue now comes with a new "anti-clog" cap!
Shocking new cap design!

Gorilla Glue's angle is that it prevents clogs, and I'm sure it does, but I think the larger point is that the shape of the bottle and the experience of opening it, is unique to the glue, and isn't at all like using a nasal spray anymore. Well done sir; well done.

I am still pretty happy that I didn't spray glue up my nose, nor did I attempt to fasten objects together with 12-hour nasal spray.
The universe is, once again, in balance.



1 comment:

Colleen said...

I tried to read this post to Chris and was laughing so hard, I couldn't get through it.