Packaging is a nightmare and it is costing us all dearly

Have you noticed how terrible much of the packaging we get today is.

  • Its nearly inaccessible – the use of plastic to wrap products is causing injury as people try to access the product they purchased and the type of plastic is sharp and hard to open, it is also in a lot of cases is not recycleable, so you cut your hands to shreds, you clutter up your waste bins with things that go to landfill
  • The instructions and safety are wasteful of paper all in the name of globalisation and compliance – Have you ever bought a product where the regulatory notice and the instructions actually take up more space than the product itself, no one reads them and the actual information you want to have gone on a single plastic credit card sized piece of paper.  so who is it helping and how does it save the planet or deliver a good experience for the consumer, in short it does not it in some twisted way is the bean counters and manufacturing managers who think it is a good because they have a common product they send out across the world.
  • Power supply cables – Because we cannot agree standards, we end up with nearly a meter of copper cable we through away everytime as we do not need it as it for a different country.  What does a copper three core wound cable cost and if you sell a million products its a million meters of cable that ends up in the bin or a cupboard for two years before it ends up in the bin
  • Font size on the side of tins and packets – You now need an electron microscope or at least  a magnifying glass to read the information on the side of tins, packets and other products.  Why?, is it a desire to be regulatory compliant first and not consumer centric first.  People do want to know what to do but it is lost in all the other information that regulators now say need to be provided to be legally compliant.  but no one reads it do they.

So what are the common themes here

  • Regulatory compliance trumps being customer centric
  • Customer experience is considered secondary to convenience for retailers in terms of packaging
  • Operational and manufacturing cost efficiency trumps protection of our natural resources and the environment

Now lets be clear some people do try to do better. Amazon use cardboard for their packaging, it is recycleable, it is cheap and it is based on recycle material. I know I give them a hard time for so many other failings but they get this largely correct even if the reason they do is it is cheapest option with a brand carry on environmentally responsible, corporate social responsibility as a spin off benefit

If you look at clothes retailers they use plastic which cannot be recycled but is waterproof.  Big retailers of electrical products are simply demanding packaging that goes on a display unit easily and no consideration is being made for the waste of natural resources.

Here is an example:  I got three memory sticks the size of a domino each from Amazon. They arrived in a cardboard box on a cardboard display pack with a plastic built in.  I saved petrol by having them posted, bought at  a cheaper price than in store by 30% and also got free delivery.

So is there someone out there doing the maths, how much natural resource are we wasting in terms of

  • plastics of many types
  • copper cable
  • distribution costs due to space wasted
  • medical supplies repairing the damage caused by packaging
  • land fill for things that cannot be replaced

Should we be asking ourselves

  • How many pence in every pound we spend
  • How much time do we waste a year dealing with poor packaging
  • How much stress does poor packaging cost
  • How did the madness of bean counters and manufacturing managers become more important than the environment and the customer.

Apple was the legend of design but the crown is slipping and Google following suit

I have serious concerns about the scale and size of Apple and their quest for peoples data and control over their information but I have always loved their design, it was always so intuitive and felt in tune (no pun intended) with my life and the way I work but with the release of iOS7  they have let their standards slip and frankly made life a little bit harder for the average person in the street and disappointing if you love design.  Here are some examples of what I mean

  • Adding a new contact – If you wish to add a new contact the default telephone number type is “Radio” come on Apple get a grip will you, “Mobile” maybe these days.  Even the list of options when you call it up to change from radio is actually not in Alphabetical order and it does not look like it is a heuristic algorithm that works out your most common choices and ranks them in that order, in short it is simply poor thinking and they have let themselves down.
  • Selecting which speakers you want to use on Airplay – Well it used to be next to the volume control and now its gone, no amount of playing with the environment would reveal its location, I tried settings, everywhere I could in music and then resorted to using Google search to find an answer and there it was sitting in some new feature that is really hard to find called a sort of control dashboard.

ios7control screen

 

Now I am sure someone somewhere spent several millions pounds on UX design research focus groups and had the classic 5 a day testing undertaken but how can we end up with some thing that fundamentally delivers the following issues to a user.  Where in the god of design manual does it say this makes sense, any of it.  Lets look at the one by one

  1. Adding unnecessary extra steps to an established approach – To do something that took one touch in context has now moved to taking three steps and only if you actually know where to look. You cannot search for the feature you need try searching for AirPlay on your phone, nothing
  2. Offering simply ludicrous options that reflect no currently reality for any demographic under the sun, give me a break “Radio” we are in the bizarre situation of young people actually discovering radio anew and it is not in the context of storing a contact record
  3. Making the contrast and overall UX harder to understand – We used to rely on Apple providing some leadership focused on human need but now we seem to be part of a flat white design culture where everything is harder to determine the edges of.  I personally loved the feeling of the real world on my phone and the clarity of edges and where to touch things to make them happen.  Now it is less clear, you have to guess, how is that a good user experience.

Just as guys like Aral Balkan are picking the open source community up by the bootstraps and saying get real about design, those that were synonymous with design and frankly have the sort of budgets people would die for are getting worse and worse. Apple are not alone, just look at the latest iteration of Google Apps and the weak thinking going on there

  • Three steps where one would do in the past, gone is the black top nav bar, you now have to click a grid on the right and then select what you want one click to two or three – Mad
  • Google Drive Folders – Now this was one of the great innovations in my view – Simple concept, you can tag any document with what ever you want and build structure from tags.  The glaring flaw in Microsoft world was duplication of documents across different folders because no one used shortcuts.  Google implemented this well, you could add a document to as many folders are as you wanted with a single click.  Now as they try to compete for local storage battle with Dropbox and SkyDrive they make this feature harder to use by insisting you hold down the Ctrl (Cmd) key while you tick which folders you want a document to appear in. If you forget and tick a folder all the others become unticked and you lose all the sharing you had set up.  how did this help people versus help google try and compete with local synchronised storage.  I do not use the local folder option as I do not see the point but if i did I would want Google to do better and sort out how to deal with reconciling their innovative approach in the cloud to work locally not remove a valued feature a perpetuate increased volume in storage

At the heart of it all I think is a basic contempt for their customers and a disregard for their needs in favour of achieving their corporate goals or simply losing control of the fundamental ethos of their business.  And please do not get me started on the fundamental issue of their Data Feudalism, they want our data, they want our behaviour and they want to analyse the hell out of us.  Google give you loads of stuff for free and your data and your behaviour is the price you pay.  Apple have managed to get us to pay and still get the data and behaviour, how amazing is that.  If you want some festive viewing then look not further than terms and conditions may apply

And if that is not enough fun check out spoof of Apples terms, you have been warned

The challenge of modern society

Every noticed how people are busy making lists of things they are going to do, or talking about what they are going to do or interested in that needs investigation.

All sounds terribly intellectual and clever but hidden behind this is a simple fact that people have to a large extent lost the love of execution, by which I mean actually doing things, writing a document, reading an article, researching something, forming an opinion, making a difference, contributing or delivering on commitments.

I think this is a corporate and social malaise that is causing waste, delays and fails on so many fronts as people have lost the make it happen spirit. I this a by product of employing people from University where they have acquired a sense of self importance devoid of outcomes beyond studying to get the right degree to get into the right graduate programme or is it corporate culture that wants yes people who simply work to earn to live versus see work as a fundamental part of who they are. Work is part of and individuals contribution to society, growth in the economy and general improvement in all things, self esteem, self awareness and fulfilment.

We are increasingly seeing employers seeking people with real experience who can turn up and work, by which I mean produce something, do something, be happy to follow when asked, happy to lead but above to produce things not just talk about it in self congratulatory terms demonstrating their prowess with the English Language and access to arcane knowledge and terms that are largely inaccessible to most people.

We need a simple charter for the future

  • Understand what is need
  • Think about who to achieve it
  • Act on those steps and deliver
  • Measure the result for satisfaction and outcomes
  • Value delivery and execution above pontification, expect people to be responsible and accountable

If what a person doing cannot be defined in SMART terms we should be saying stop until you can.

I don’t want to kill thinking, what i want to do is inspire people to execute and learn the joy of making things happen

Oh BRITAIN, where did we go wrong?

We’re “broke” and can’t help our own Seniors, Veterans, Orphans, Homeless etc.?

Are you aware of the  following comparison?

The  British Government provides the following financial assistance:  –

  • BRITISH OLD  AGED PENSIONER (bearing in mind they worked hard and paid their Income  Tax and National Insurance contributions to the British government all  their working life)   Weekly allowance: £106.00
  • IMMIGRANTS/REFUGEES LIVING IN BRITAIN (No Income Tax and National Insurance contribution whatsoever)   Weekly allowance: £250.00
  • BRITISH OLD AGED PENSIONER Weekly Spouse allowance:£25.00
  • ILLEGAL  IMMIGRANTS/REFUGEES LIVING IN BRITAIN Weekly Spouse allowance:  £225.00
  • BRITISH OLD AGED PENSIONER Additional weekly hardship allowance £0.00
  • ILLEGAL  IMMIGRANTS/REFUGEES LIVING IN BRITAIN Additional weekly hardship  allowance £100.00

A  British old age pensioner is no less hard up than an illegal  immigrant/refugee yet receives nothing

  • BRITISH OLD AGED PENSIONER TOTAL YEARLY BENEFIT£6,000
  • ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS/REFUGEES LIVING IN BRITAIN TOTAL YEARLY  BENEFIT: £29,900

Please read all and then forward to all your contacts so that we can lobby for a decent state pension.

After all, the  average pensioner has paid taxes and contributed to the growth of this country for the last 40 to 60 years.

Sad isn’t it?

Dear Mr Cameron……

Dear Mr. Cameron, 

Please find below my suggestion for fixing the UK ‘s economy.

Instead of giving billions of pounds to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan; The Patriotic Retirement Plan:

There are about 10 million people over 50 in the work force.
Pay them £1 million each severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire. Ten million job openings – unemployment fixed
2) They MUST buy a new British car. Ten million cars ordered – Car Industry fixed
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – Housing Crisis fixed
4) They MUST send their kids to school/college/university – Crime rate fixed
5) They MUST buy £100 WORTH of alcohol/tobacco a week ….. And there’s your money back in duty/tax etc

It can’t get any easier than that!

P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of parliament pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances If you think this would work, please forward to everyone you know.

Also………..

Let’s put the pensioners in jail and the criminals in a nursing home.

  • This way the pensioners would have access to showers, hobbies and walks. 
  • They’d receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they’d receive money instead of paying it out. 
  • They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance. 
  • Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them. 
  • A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell. 
  • They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose. 
  • They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counseling, pool and education. 
  • Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ’s and legal aid would be free, on request. 
  • Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens. 
  • Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls. 
  • There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to. 

The criminals would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised.

  • Lights off at 8pm
  • showers once a week
  • Live in a tiny room
  • pay £600.00 per week and have no hope of ever getting out.

Think about this (more points of contention):

COWS
Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born in Appleby almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the county of Cumbria?

And, they even tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 125,000 illegal immigrants wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow.