Designing For People

I love to bake. I take a lot of pride in choosing the best tools for my kitchen. Sure, I’ve accumulated a fun collection of colorful spatulas and measuring cups as gifts over the years, but when I look at my favorite tools, they are almost all OXO brand. I’ve been buying their products for years. So, what makes them so special? Why do I trust them so much? Their strong commitment to Universal Design makes their products a pleasure for me to use in my kitchen. I never struggle to understand how to use them and I can count on them to do the job.


OXO was founded when Sam Farber noticed his wife struggling to use her vegetable peeler due to arthritis. Her experience inspired him to create a new and better peeler that was more comfortable for her to use. According to the OXO website, “In 1990, after extensive research, hundreds of models, and dozens of design iterations, the first 15 OXO Good Grips Kitchen tools, including the iconic peeler, were introduced to the US Market.” By designing for his wife’s extreme needs, he was able to create products that also benefit everyone else.


The success of OXO is admirable, and I’m inspired by their attention to design and user experience. In my opinion, great design requires an understanding of many human needs. OXO didn’t just design a product to peel vegetables. They designed a product to work for a person. Humans are at the core of their business. All of their products are used and tested by numerous people with various needs to ensure they are creating products that serve as many needs as possible. On their website they claim: “Great products don’t make themselves. They need inspiration. Design. Testing.”


Due to the success of companies like OXO, designing for user experience has become a hot topic for businesses. However, the amount of research involved in creating a great product can make a company hesitant to spend the time and money. I recently attended a local guest lecture hosted by the Interaction Design Association. Chris Bovard, a UX (User Experience) Leader at Paycor spoke about the importance of UX leadership to an organization. He outlined three reasons why UX design is worth the investment.


1.  UX design neutralizes your competition. If you make a product that is well understood and easy to use, why would people look elsewhere?
2.  UX design converts your users into believers by offering overall perception of quality and security. In my case, if I’m shopping for a new kitchen gadget, I don’t even need to shop around. I know that If I buy an OXO product, it will be well designed and stand up to the job.
3. UX design reduces support costs. If a product is well designed and rooted in human research, there will be fewer problems down the road. The product becomes easier to make and more simple to communicate to your consumers. OXO’s simple packaging, clean lines and rounded ergonomic handles make them intuitive to use & easily recognizable in the store.


We talk a lot about humanizing innovation at Seek. We believe that when you empathically connect with people, you will be inspired to act on their behalf and innovate in a way that truly serves them. An empathic connection creates the opportunity to design for the needs of real people. Designing for people helps to build relationships and create consumer advocates for your brand.