This past weekend I had a little post-St. Patrick’s Day fun hanging out with my husband at a local biergarten. We drank some delicious Belgian beer, shared a giant pretzel, and spent the afternoon people watching. Good times!
While sitting at the bar, my husband pointed out the non-traditionally shaped coasters they used there; they consisted of the usual circle to put your mug on with an extra bubble attached to the side.
These are genius for two reasons: not only does the mug no longer cover the brand, this design gives you a tab to leverage so that your coaster doesn’t get stuck to the bottom of your glass.
So simple, so obvious, how has no one thought of this before?
And THAT my friends, is the essence of good user experience. Our goal as UX professionals is to identify and solve problems people may not realize they have. Intuitive solutions like this one never fail to bring joy to the user and make them feel like someone is reading their mind before they are even aware of what they are thinking.
I never knew that I NEEDED a coaster that wouldn’t get stuck to my glass. Well sure, of course I didn’t like it when that happened, but I never said, “Gee, they should make a coaster that doesn’t stick to my glass.” Compound this with the fact that traditional coasters are printed with ads that are hidden most of the time and you have a real winner! Why advertise on something that no one will see? Solving two problems is always better than solving one and I’d like to buy whomever thought of this great idea a drink.
Now perhaps it was just a coincidence, but this new kind of coaster seems like quite an effective marketing tool because when we moved on to another restaurant for dinner, my husband drank Jameson’s for the rest of the night.
To read more about the connection between drinking beer and UX, check out my colleague Jim Ross’ thoughts about The Usability of Self Service Beer.