Make It Easy!

I’ve conducted research with consumers where beautiful, creative, innovative and effective packaging designs have been completely dismissed because the function was not intuitive, or it was too tedious (“Too fiddly” as some of our friends across the pond would say!)

Personally, I’m a fan of simple and easy packaging.  Not long ago, I found vitamins in bottle with a flip top cap – brilliant!  I find that I’m more compliant about taking the numerous supplements because it is so quick and easy.  Granted, this does not work in a household where you might need child-resistant closures, but I’m beyond that and I’m into convenience.

I’ve recently become even more aware of how important ease of use is with regard to packaging.  A while back, my younger daughter broke a bone in her finger while doing some goalie training with her soccer team.  She wore a bright green cast for the next four weeks.  I love how she is still managed to do almost everything for herself (fiercely independent – yes, she gets that from me).  But some things were just not easy.  

Her toothpaste had a screw cap – not easy one handed.  Gave her a flip cap and she was good.  A squeeze bottle of shampoo – wet, slippery, not working well with one hand – but after setting her free with a salon-style pump and there are no more frustrated calls for mom from the shower.

I know her situation was temporary, and maybe I’m just lazy when it comes to wanting quick, easy open and close features.  But for many people, dealing with packaging for the most common every day products can be a real challenge.  Imagine our senior population, many of whom manage arthritis or have compromised sensation or strength in their hands.  Grasping a package that is too wide or too narrow is difficult and can be painful.  Turning a screw cap can also cause pain, or they simply might not have the strength to do it.  The eyesight might be going and finding a small tab marked “pull here” could go unnoticed or be difficult to grasp with clumsy fingers.  I think of stories I’ve heard of able bodied people using knives to open packaging – imagine this scenario with someone who is blind, or lacks strength in their hands.

There is the concept of Universal Design which speaks to the idea of designing products or packaging to be easy for those most challenged and if it is easy for them, it will certainly work for all.  As our Boomer population ages and awareness increases, I’m sure we will hear more about this.  

My questions to you - for what products would you like to see simpler, easier packaging? How important is one-handed access for some products?