A bus journey in the life of a product designer
Abhishek Sharma
November 29, 2017

I started ’today’ with some hopes and motivation, and of solving my problem of getting from Dehradun to Delhi. My underlying motive was also to get some of my work done along the way, and so i booked the best bus which would give me enough seat space to work comfortably, plugs to power my devices along the way, and would stop once in the journey for food and refreshment. Everything looked set, with a clear expectation of what i was getting into-which is crucial also for any product to do in the beginning. This is why one product would get adopted by the users as opposed to any other product.

I settled down and got to work, and after some time, the power hungry devices needed juice. I plugged the adapter into the socket only to discover that it wasn’t working. I tried a few times, few different sockets, and I could related it to the time when users frantically click away at a button trying to make their action work, a few steps into the use.

A product without its core features working is nothing but a ‘duct’ leading the users to disappointment and frustration.

I walked up to the bus conductor to inquire what was wrong. I was hoping to return with a solution since I dint get this bus to face this situation. I was hopeful there would be some other way. This made me think of users reaching out to the product support guide to find a solution. Imagine if instead of a solution they find written there “this feature doesn’t work”. In my case, the guide was also animated with a carefree face that yawned a similar answer to my face “the inverter is bust and none of the switches are working”. Definitely the user instinct wouldn’t be to calmly put the product aside, and look for something else. He would want to smash that support guide’s teeth before looking for another solution.

A product that can’t give assurance is nothing but a ‘prod’ of anxiety.

Along my journey, I was wishing for a stop-over that would allow me to refresh my devices; more than myself. And we did stop. But now as I waited to charge my devices and myself, i kept wishing the bus wouldn’t leave without me. This was similar to the times, a user wasn’t sure the checkpoints were trustworthy.

Today could have been different if the plugs had worked. Today can be just what a user needs if the product only fulfilled what it was designed to do.