Are You Designing for Users or Collectors?
A while back, my family gave me some Thor shampoo. I was thrilled at the prospect of Hemsworthy locks!
But I also had a bottle of mostly-full shampoo, so it would be a while before I could open my Thor shampoo and unleash my outer Asgardian. I sighed, put the bottle on the shelf, and admired it as the level of my regular brand dwindled. All was well.
This week, Soapsblot finally arrived. The other bottle was empty. I was ready to massage the power of Thor until it lathered. And as I stood there dripping in the shower, I learned an important thing about shampoo bottles.
The Dark Secret of Thor Shampoo
Most shampoo bottles are childishly easy to open. Flip, squirt, squooch. They work smoothly even if you’re still mostly asleep. Which is an important affordance, because when I get into the shower in the morning, I’m a semi-sentient shambler out of a low-budget horror flick.
Thor does not flip. For a few long, wet seconds I was unsure how to get Thor to open up at all. Then I figured it out. Great hair comes at a price, and if I wanted to add some shine to my style, I had to twist Thor’s head off.
Fiddling around with an irregularly shaped bottle and twist-off cap when it’s early and you’re sleepy is not a good user experience. And getting through the thick metal foil that covered the top of the bottle under those circumstances did not make things any easier. So it seems pretty obvious that this bottle was designed for collectors to admire on their shelves and not for actual use.
You Know The Collector Has a Bottle of This Too
Designing for collectors is a legitimate design goal, and I have derived a significant amount of pleasure from admiring the bottle on my shelf. Now that I finally have it open, I’ll use the shampoo. I’ll keep the bottle and admire it some more when it’s empty. But as a designer, you have to be crystal clear on how your user is going to put your product to work. You also have to communicate to the user, so they’re not trying to tear Thor’s head off at an inconvenient time.
As for the shampoo itself? It’s fine. It’s probably the same stuff I was putting on my head already. It cleans my hair. Thor shampoo has not given me the great Hollywood Chrises hair, but I always suspected their hair was CGI-enhanced anyway. So that’s probably why. Excelsior!
Indomitable is still on the back burner, and the thesis is still in progress. I also have a new job at Kuuasema, a very cool company that does games for lots of people. It’s going to be a busy spring!