Usability at Work: Instant Oatmeal


A lot of people ask me what I study in school.  Usually, I just say, "Web design."  But that's not quite right.  What I should start saying is "user experience research."

What is user experience?  Everything.  It's about how you experience the world around you, and for my part, I like to find out how.  How do people use things?  How do people use Web sites?  How do people find information, and how do they process it?  Why do people look for certain information in the first place, and what are they expecting to get out of it?  Are there problems with the way a particular product is designed that makes people frustrated whenever they use it?  What could make the experience better?

Those are the questions I ask in my research, and those are the questions that bleed into nearly every part of my life.  So when I opened my new box of Quaker Instant Oatmeal (maple and brown sugar, thankyouverymuch), I immediately noticed that people had been doing their user experience research.  Do you see the 3/4 cup fill line at the top of the packet?  Quaker turned the natural affordance of a folded piece of paper into a piece of user experience brilliance!  IT'S A CUP!  A cup for people who don't have a measuring cup lying around!  A cup for people who don't want to use their cup for measuring water!  A cup for people who just don't want to bother!

It's products such as this that make me smile.  Maybe I'll apply for a job at Pepsico, maker of Quaker Oats.  :)


(Originally published at Busy Nothings on March 11, 2013.)