Archive for April, 2009

Given all the effort that consumer product companies put into their branding and package design, I was fairly shocked at what I saw in my local CVS store. Basically, the CVS-brand products featured packaging that was nearly identical to the name brand products. They copied the colors, text styles, and more — everything but the […]

If you use Netflix, you’ve probably experienced the “Very long wait” problem. It shows up like this: you add a new movie or TV show to your queue, sometimes the very first day it appears in the Netflix system. Then, once the DVD release date is reached, the status changes to say “Very long wait”. […]

While working with an online spreadsheet program, I noticed something interesting. As you might already know, some web-based applications don’t have a “Save” button. Instead, changes are saved automatically, without any action on your part. Well, in the case of this spreadsheet program, the designers realized that people would still be looking for the missing […]

On Sunday morning, I walked past an area where they were setting up for some inane public event. Off to the side, I counted 14 portable bathroom units (“Port-a-Potty” or whatever they’re called), but only one hand washing station. Even if the hand washer can serve four people at once, the implication of those numbers […]

Whenever I go to the dentist, I typically take the train. The dentist’s office is only about a mile away, but the train always seemed faster and more direct than walking. But after waiting much longer than usual after my last appointment (due to rail construction or some other nonsense), I started to wonder: what […]

I know that I’ve written about this before, but I came across the problem again — this time on an otherwise excellent support site. Namely, don’t use low-contrast color schemes for text that customers are supposed to read. Almost dark gray on a sort of white background will always be harder to read than black […]

Some retailers have been touting their “Low Prices” for years, and generally the claim seems to be true. Those who position themselves on something besides price alone tend to emphasize product quality, personalized service, and other factors. But lately, I’ve been noticing more full-priced stores touting a somewhat misguided low price message. Take Staples, for […]

Summer is almost here, and in Chicago that means an endless series of excessively loud concerts and festivals. These events are so loud, in fact, that you can hear them thirty or forty floors off the ground. And who funds these wonderful events? Judging by the signage and advertising, it seems like corporate sponsors make […]

Against my better judgement, I went to Sears on Saturday to pick up a few random things that Amazon doesn’t carry. The store looked like a cheap flea market, with products stacked up all over the place, but that’s not what I’m writing about today. Instead, I want to talk about the excessive number of […]

When you’re shopping in a local store, it’s easy to find the unit price of virtually any item. Most stores print it right on the price tag, e.g. “$0.02 per square foot”. But when you’re shopping online, unit costs are much harder to locate. Sure, dedicated grocers like Peapod have this info, but other sites […]