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design me (please)

here is a blog entry I wrote from the Washington DC airport when I didn't have internet access... a little extracurricular insight...


It is our responsibility as designers to recognize the potential for improved human experience. Said more simply, we are bred to think that we can do- and make- everything better.

Today I experienced one of those situations. This morning I woke up a little early and headed down to CVS before class. I haven’t been feeling the greatest, and have a full weekend of traveling ahead of me, so I figured it would be well worth it to invest in some OTC remedy for my ailments. I made it to the pharmacy OK, and then made my way to the cold and allergy drugs. And then…I spent twenty minutes comparing active ingredients between drugs for cold relief, sinus relief, maximum strength sinus relief, the store brand, and the name brand. Eventually, the pharmacist asked if I needed anything. I turned to him, slightly exasperated, and asked what might be relevant for congestion? He said ‘sudafed,’ and I was sold…

There are a couple important take-aways from this situation…
- It is very difficult to find a solution when you don’t know the problem first. I had no idea what medicine to buy because I don’t really know what is wrong with me. This puts me at risk for buying (and consuming) the wrong medicine or possibly overmedicating. This has larger implications for the design process. It is hard, if not impossible, to solve a problem where there is no problem.

- Subjectively, the consumer experience of buying OTC medications is horrible and needs improvement. When I am already feeling lousy I do not want to have to spend forever guessing which drug might be the right one for me. Give me big displays with symptoms and solutions or better yet, give me a human (which leads me to…)

- Sometimes there is just no replacement for human interaction. At the same time, person-to-person input can be one of the strongest selling points out there. I needed the pharmacist’s help and I took what he said as truth as soon as he said it. He could have told me to chop off my nose and I probably would have considered it…

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