YX. Yoghurt eXperience

I like yoghurts. I like regular ones, without flavours or sugar. I am very simple about them, but I really like them a lot. If you want to make me happy, give me a yoghurt and a spoon and that‘s it.

Usually I buy the same brand: Danone. I do not buy this brand because their yoghurts are better than others or any other particular reason, more as a habit got into a long time ago: when I was a kid I always ate Yoplait yoghurts, but one day they disappeared from the market and the purchasing manager, A.K.A. my mother, needed to change my yoghurts’ supplier.

In yoghurt packaging, the small ones of 125gr have been almost similar for years. Of course the arts have changed, but materials and shape did not change a lot in general. When I was a kid the regular pots were already made of a kind of injected plastic with a plasticised paper cap, and the classic pots made of glass were used only for “high quality” yoghurts.

Nowadays well-known food brands have more competition, because private labels are more and more present in superstores. The price of the product is one of the biggest reasons to buy, and well-known brands are in disadvantage facing their competitors. Not because they are more expensive, but people assume they are, even if sometimes they are not. Innovation in packaging is a way to draw the consumer’s attention. Now you can see in the market packaging with innovative shapes and materials, easy to open and to handle and good looking arts.

In 2011 Danone launched in Spain a new packaging for their yoghurts, and one year later in France and other countries. The first time I saw them in the market I was really impressed, because they integrated the design of a classic glass pot in a plastic pot, mixing the “good look” of the glass pot with the practical material and volume of the plastic ones, allowing to make packs of four or eight (or more). Also I can imagine that it was thought and designed not to be a big problem when having to manage stocks and deliveries with the new packs.

Not only this, the plastic used in this new pot is shinier than the old one, so that the customer can better see the product in the refrigerated section.

But the great surprise was when I started to eat the yoghurt. The touch of the plastic and the shape in the bottom let the spoon slide properly, much better than in the old pots, with a 90° corner in the bottom that did not fit in any way with the shape of a normal spoon.

This new pot, named “Kiss”, has been developed by the Danone R&D Team, with Mr Vincent Ferry, packaging engineer, as leader of the team. The name, “Kiss”, is the acronym of “Keep It Simple and Safe”. But the name could also be a good evolution of the previous one, named “RK”.

Yes, the yoghurt is the same as always, but the experience eating it is absolutely different. And it looks much better.

Bravo!

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eXperience

The sun is rising up and the alarm clock rings.

Usually, the first thing that we do in the day is interacting with objects. We turn in the bed, and we switch off the alarm clock.

Habits change, and today sometimes the alarm clock is a smartphone, with or without dock station. Technology is more and more in our daily lives. I don’t know if is a good thing or not, but personally I prefer the music of a smartphone to wake me up than the cook-a-doodle-doo of a rooster. It’s easier to switch off.

There are a lot of variables to keep in mind when we work in a design project. One of them is the technology available and another one is how ergonomics and design are mixed with it. It is interesting to see the evolution. In my opinion, some of the best achievements in design & ergonomics were put in the market some years ago for the well-known brand Olivetti. The touch of the keys of the “-summa” series is almost perfect, they really feel like an extension of your finger. But not only ergonomics are great, the keys of some models like Elettrosumma, round on the top, have a supreme design made by Marcello Nizzoli.

These Olivetti machines that were successful more than fifty years ago, are one of the best examples of a successful UX design: solid, well made, heavy (and stable) and easy to use.

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© photo: http://museo.dagomari.prato.it

Another success of mixing design & ergonomics was the iconic cell phone from “The Matrix” movie, the Nokia 7110, with a correct weight, a giant screen (for 1999) a shape that fits perfectly with the face.

“Experience” is a big word. Even if usually we use “UX” in reference to the “digital” world to define the design of the tree view, layouts, etc of an application or program, really we can (and we have to) use it in the “physical” world as well. When we touch a packaging, we open it, we take the product and we use it, we are having an experience like a user of this product.

Nevertheless, when we talk about an “experience”, better ergonomics do not necessarily mean a better experience for the user. It is only a part of it and always a compromise. To give a call, the ergonomics of a Nokia 7110 is far better than any smartphone today, because they are all flat. And, usually, our heads are not. The key of an Elettrosumma fits under your finger better than nothing, and feels far better than the best flat touchscreen. Because our fingers are round, not flat.

But, today we feel better with the last digital devices for a lot of other reasons. Which are not necessarily the same for all the people, and may vary in the time. In fact, I am the same man who started to write this entry, but, yes, sometimes, I prefer the cook-a-doodle-doo of a rooster to wake me up. It means I am on holydays.

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The airport

In the first blog entry I talked about machines and human relationships. Really today it is more important than ever, and it will keep increasing in the future as machines take every day a more important place in our lives. There are some specialities in design that help humans to interact with machines.

Today we talk a lot about the UX (User eXperience) and UI (User Interface) design, the smartphones and tablets have contributed a lot to this.

The UX design provides a good way to use a program, an application, website, or even an Operative System for the user. And the UI design provides the graphics to do it. They are like signage design, but inside the screen, in a virtual world.

If we are at the Airport, we use the panels with arrows and pictograms to find the door to take the plane. If we are using an app in a smartphone, we use the menu and icons to share a picture.

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In both cases the principles are the same: we only have two or three seconds to provide to the user the knowledge on how the logics work in the signals and in the app. If it is hard to understand the experience will be not positive. At the airport, the problem will be some lost angry people because they can’t find the right door. With the app, the user maybe will change to the concurrence app. People are patient at the airport (they have no other choice) but it is the opposite in the virtual world. But if signals are easy to understand, the airport people flow will be optimised, and, in the app, people will take it like something they need to have.

To provide a good experience to a user we need to simplify all the information we want to give, and use the logics and the ergonomics to make it easy to understand. And it has to be fast! I can’t imagine being at the airport waiting six seconds for an arrow to appear to indicate the right door …

Yesterday, reading about distribution of the universe, I realised that really, there are a lot of similitude with how things work in ergonomics.

Atoms are organised in a right way to form the basic elements of the Mendeleïev’s periodic table.

Elements, are organised in a right way to form molecules, of water, for example.

And we can go on as far as galaxies being organised in clusters.

In fact, as we saw some paragraphs before, ergonomics principles don’t change. Only needs change.

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Hello World!

Hello world!
To introduce myself, my name is Juan Miguel M. Camarasa, and I am a designer. I work in many areas of design and advertising. I have always liked to share my knowledge in design and advertising, and I think a blog is way to do so.

Ok, I know, I arrive a little bit late: blogs and bloggers have been exists for decades, more or less; but I think better late than never.

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Why “I, blog”?

Well. As a designer, maybe the obvious answer would be to make a reference to Apple Brand. But, as the comma says, the name of this blog is a reference to Isaac Asimov’s book “I, robot”. Isaac Asimov was for a lot of people, the best science-fiction writer of the 20th Century. In “I, Robot” he talks about the robotics laws and the interaction between machines and humans.

We don’t live together (yet?) with robots like Asimov describes in his book. Nevertheless, today, technology is closer to us as ever. We don’t interact with robots with human-looking appearance, but, we need smart objects to plan our schedules, to be connected with others, to find information, etc.

As designers, we have an important role in this fast technological evolution. We have to provide the logical and graphic way to interact with the machines.

Thanks and see you

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