Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When Good Mobile Design Goes Bad

The average Joe or Josephine thinks of good design, and they think about how good something looks.  As my user experience colleagues would argue, beauty is not skin deep.  Many excellent designs are the results of tireless and maniacal focus to a tight set of goals and inherent acumen to user design that is applied to a product, from components to packaging and everything within.

When something is designed well, it appeals to you from the first look, the first touch, and every interaction you have with it through your experience.  I was reminded of great design and poor design at the same time, from the same product, this weekend.  My Sony Ericsson Bluetooth HBH-IS800 Headset.

Recently, I learned that I could link my American Express points with Amazon (awesomeness!), which has led me to buy many things that I may not have necessarily needed, including this headset.  I bought it so I could jog and listen to podcasts, without the nuisance of the cord that I occasionally yank out with my clumsy arms.  I am not beauty in motion, mind you.

So, as you can see from the photo, the headset is amazing, in that its minimal, simple, and extremely light for a stereo wireless headset.  Exactly what I needed for running.

Now, look at the power adapter.  This has been my pet peeve for years with mobile phones and laptop computers.  Electrical designers would skimp on the power design and have these massive bricks that you would need to charge the phones.  So, the phone would be thin and light, but the power brick would be just that, a brick!

Sony-Ericsson has had this particular accessory/power adaptor for at least 13 years.  Look at the sleek, simple headphones plugging into this odd adaptor.  There are multiple ways to plug it in, but only one of them is right.  The power brick is bigger and heaver than the headphones.  Looking at the two connected puts visions in my mind of a nice sports car with rims from low-cost, value car.  Ideally, this should be able to plug in to a USB port, so I would not have to bring this extra cord when I travel.

Needless to say, with good design, the experience pleases from start to finish.  There's no use having a tiny laptop with a huge power brick, unless you are promising unlimited battery life, so I can travel without compromise.  Focused goals and vision, attention to every detail, and a disciplined regimen of user experience from the beginning of the produce process to the end.

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