If you’re a parent, you know how this goes. You’re in the middle of grocery shopping, speeding between the bakery and the milk cooler when your 3-yr-old looks up at you urgently:
“Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom.”
Mission aborted, new mission! Suddenly your urgent objective is to get to a bathroom before you become the cause for a clean up on aisle 6.
Once you finally locate the bathroom, get your kiddo seated and the adrenaline starts to fade, you realize that when they designed these bathrooms, they weren’t thinking about you and your 3-yr-old. The entire place is dirty, the stalls are small, the sinks are out of your kid’s reach, and the hand dryer is so loud that it brings your little one to tears (true story).
In short, the bathroom wasn’t well-considered.
Most big box stores aren’t. They might be built for efficiency, or profits, but not for the people that inhabit the place (particularly the 3-year-olds and their parents).
Contrast the Superstore experience (I mean, ahem, the “generic grocery store used for this purely hypothetical example”), with the IKEA experience.
My family loves visiting the big blue store (and then I “love” trying to Tetris-pack all our purchases into our vehicle afterwards…). Yes, I’ve run for miles with a 3-yr-old in tow looking for a bathroom there too (what’s the Swedish word for “emergency”?), but in all the little things – the step stools, the family change rooms, the low sinks – you can see that they considered the smaller occupants of the store. As far as big-box stores go, IKEA is a well-considered space.
Ever since Erik’s passing comment in his recent design newsletter, this thought has been haunting me whenever I design something:
Is it well-considered?
A designer’s job is to be considerate. To think about the audience or the user, and design messages and experiences in a way that will connect with and delight them.
This is one of my favourite parts of being a designer. But it’s also one of my biggest frustrations. Our landscapes – both in real life and on the inter-webs – are filled with inconsiderate spaces. Even the websites I work on every day are filled with areas that have been overlooked and unconsidered.
We all have the opportunity to listen more, be more considerate in our conversations and work, to consider how we can delight and connect with people we serve and interact with.
It’s worth considering how we can be more… considerate.