Updated: Dec 8, 2020
I had always been comfortable with capless pens (the pens having retractable nibs or pen points) but I had never given much thought into why it was so.
Very recently, I read The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman and ever since I see my self inadvertently becoming observant, sometimes to the extent of becoming finicky when using certain everyday things, and many a times I have this question to myself "O My God, this is so obvious, why did I not think of this before?"
Even though I started my career as a Software Engineer, and we did use 'design patterns' when designing a framework or a product module, the word 'Design' outside the Software Engineering parlance always alluded to the visual aesthetics of things. But this book has changed the way I think about the word 'Design'.
Say I walk into a store to buy a water bottle which I am to carry with myself when I step out of home and I am to compare two water bottles, costing almost the same, and one is more visually appealing in comparison to the other, it's highly likely I could go for the less visually appealing one if my mind tells me the second one is more user friendly or gives me an better experience as far as my requirements are concerned. The two things I look out for when buying a bottle are usually - the ease of opening and closing the cap of the bottle when out on a walk or even driving and how well the a bottle of a particular volume fits into my everyday bag I carry. I am a person who prefers all my stuff I need when I step out of home be well spaced in one single bag. So, coming to the water bottle, the weight of the bottle is the third consideration I could make even if the first two requirements are met. And if this 'three-in-one' bottle pleases my aesthetic sense, it is a cherry on top! This in no way means I am undermining the importance of good-looks, for both the inanimate as well as the living, in my life!
I might have done the same thinking earlier subconsciously but now I see myself consciously thinking of what are the different things I should think of when buying something or comparing two objects as far as experience is concerned. And it is an extremely interesting exercise! Comparing the 'design' of two objects.
So, I have my phone notepad filling up with the simplest of experiences which peeve me or I have loved while I am using an object, visiting a store and so on. And I have sincere plans of writing a post on that when I have good (at least) 10 things to talk about!
This led me to sign up for Interaction Design Foundation and hoard other design books to get more insights into Design Thinking and User Experience Design, including but not limited to Digital Applications.
Having said all of this, and as I think more about it - I believe Designer's role, as we perceive it today, to be about taking care of aesthetics or experience in using any Product cannot be completely detached from an Engineers role, which is about technology or engineering used to create the Product, or at least both have to work in tandem as much as possible to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. But, that is out of the scope of this blog post at the moment. I would want to write a more informed one later!
Coming to the capless pens I started with - it’s a no brainer why I have always loved capless pens and Iwasaki Katsuji of Pilot Corp, the inventor of the capless pens did the smartest thing, and saved the earth from having zillions of lost pen caps, and maybe their unpaired counterparts, thrown around, ultimately adding to waste and possible climate hazards depending on the material used!