How intuitive is your labelling?

blisterpack (Mobile)I just had such a great Out-Of-Box-Experience. My experience was with a new desk chair, manufactured by SPACE . I ordered it online, so of course, it came needing to be assembled. When I opened the box, I got the usual assortment of parts and fasteners, with one brilliant difference. Instead of the bag o’ fasteners most assemble-yourself stuff comes with, the folks at SPACE put the fasteners and the Allen wrench in a nicely LABELLED blister pack. There was none of the usual scrutiny of a drawing of various screws trying to figure out which one goes where. They included a standard assembly diagram, with the usual steps and arrows for what goes where. But that painful ritual of digging a fastener out of the bag, trying to figure out whether it’s the right one by looking at tiny drawings was eliminated from the process.

It’s such a simple thing. It can’t possibly cost them much more than just putting the things in a bag. And it makes me wonder whether they might make other things I would like to purchase, just because the assembly experience was so much more pleasant.

Interaction designers work hard to make the user experience for their products one which welcomes users and makes their earliest interactions with the system pleasant ones in software, as well. But over time, feature creep and the desire to reach into new markets can complicate our systems to the point they no longer deliver the experience we once worked so hard to create.

A customer wrote to our support desk the other day, asking what report he should use to find out how his learners scored on a particular learning activity. He’s been with us for some time. The report he has used for years to pull this information is still on his system. But a recent upgrade pushed it to the “additional reports” page and off the main page of his dashboard, and he never has learned the (fairly long and complex) name of the thing, he’s just been used to pulling that report that starts with an “L” from the middle of his report list. We were able to point him to the report, and offered to put it back on his dashboard. In response, he asked “Is there any talk about making report names more intuitive?”


We struggle a LOT with labelling, in part because different organizations often use very different terms to talk about the elements of a learning experience. We recognize that what is “intuitive” to the software designer and the developer may not be intuitive to the user, so we do talk to our customers about what they call things. We even change our nomenclature as the term of art in the field changes – which then makes it hard for users who have accommodated to the previous naming scheme to find things in the new order of the ages. We also make it possible for organizations to customize the nomenclature to the org – but that can raise support issues since our support staff tends not to be versed in specialized customer nomenclature.

So it makes my heart sing to receive this blister pack, in which they eschewed using whatever technical jargon might differentiate the different fasteners in favor of the very intuitive “Screws for Armrest.” And it makes me wonder what we can do to make our user experiences similar.