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Stupid Usability #103

The Un-Openable package

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 6/8/2015

From the mind of Virgil Carroll, Principal Human Solution Architect at High Monkey:

Since I travel so much, I end up spending a lot of time lugging my bags from airport to airport and hotel to hotel.  One thing I have learned as a frequent business traveler is the art of downsizing.  Where I first started with a large bag, now I can efficiently pack up to 5 days worth of stuff in a small bag.  Where I used to have a large laptop, not I opted for a small (and less powerful) laptop that weighs a mere 2.5 lbs (making my back much happier).  This brings me to the purpose of this post.

One of the areas I have been focusing on downsizing over the past 6-9 months is all the cords and cables I always carry.  If you travel enough, especially as a speaker, you tend to bring a lot of different cords, cables and adapters with you to make sure you can handle any situation.  One area where I have carried a lot of different types of cables has been the chargers for my various devices.  My iPhone & iPad need one kind, my Kindle needs another and my Garmin Vivosmart needs yet another.  Where these cords do not take up a lot of space, when you walk for hours with a backpack on your bag…every ounce counts.

So read an article recently about some travel power cords out by a company called Tylt.  These cords are not only very flexible but also has multiple adapters that attach as needed for a particular device.  Where I have seen cords like this before, these are the first I have seen extensively tested and seemed to live up to the hype.  So I ordered myself up a couple and waited patiently for them to arrive.

When I finally received them I eagerly started to open the package…and that is when I made a few observations



The first observation is less of a stupid usability issue and more of a stupid use of material rant.  Where the package is aesthetically pleasing the green outer cover irked me quite a bit.  Now I am not a big environmentalist or such but I am definitely a person who thinks waste for the sense of design is a dumb thing and this package could ‘take the cake’.  Once I removed the green, plastic outer shell I quickly realized its purpose….absolutely nothing!  Where I would of thought it might have been the enclosure that held the packaging together, after opening I saw the packaging was still intact and it served no purpose at all…except to look pretty.  Where pretty is nice, there was absolutely nothing I could use the external shell for afterwards and was basically a huge waste of plastic.  I like minimalist packaging where you are not disposing of much…so for that the Tylt cords get an ‘F’.

So next came the second observation (and the purpose of this post)…how unbelievably difficult it was to open the packaging.  With most electronics I tend to have more patience in opening a box that with others.  You never know if the item has been damaged in shipping and some companies get really hung up on getting the packaging back intact, so with the Tylt I was going to take my time and open it up the right way…but here was the thing, I could not figure out how to open it.  As you can see from the pictures below, there are obvious pieces of the plastic packaging that should slide right out and make opening the box quite easy…right?  Instead I pulled and pushed and could not get the damn thing to open.

The package has no obvious grooves to put your finger into, no obvious flaps to lift or nothing to really show you how its done.  Now I consider myself a relatively smart person and not being able to open a package to get at a power cord should not be a level of intelligence even I don’t have.





In the end I was able to get it open.  I accomplished this by digging the side of a paperclip underneath the end flap and wrenching it free.  Once the box was open and my frustration was full steam, I couldn’t help but smile at the accompanying card to my new power cord ‘Your complete satisfaction is our Goal’ J  Where the power cords work great and really fit my needs as well as I wanted, putting together a package that looks great but is almost impossible to open definitely makes it harder to believe their card goal was ‘mission accomplished’



I wrote this particular post because I know everyone at some point has faced stupid packaging decisions by companies.  I give kudos to those companies that realize instead of frustrating us with un-openable packages they keep it to a minimum and get us to the things we want even faster!

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 6/8/2015 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments