No, not the engine. How does your car sound?

I'm fascinated by things which are artificially engineered that we take for granted as "natural". To me, this is the truest form of the word design. It's not about what colour it is or how it feels in your hand or what the average success rate is on your usability conversion funnel. Design is about creating something, anything, in a specific way, for a specific purpose.

Anything can be designed.

Did you know that many fast food chains design their chairs specifically to cut off blood circulation and be uncomfortable after about 15 minutes? Fast food means fast turnover. They want you out the door. When your bum goes numb. It's not a coincidence.

Did you know that Apple took the original iMac back to the drawing board, shortly before launching it, to make one major revision to the case? They realised that the unboxing experience sucked, there was no easy way to get the massive CRT out once you got the box home. They added a handle. They changed the entire product, just to design the experience of the customer during the first 15 seconds after they opened the box. 15 years later, we're still talking about unboxing experiences that all started here.

Did you know that there are several companies out there who create problems for customers deliberately and automatically, purely to give them the opportunity to provide "awesome customer service"? Gosh it does look rather good when hundreds of users are tweeting about how great you are because you gave them a free account for 3 months. How much did all that marketing it cost again? Nothing.

Oh, your computer suddenly started slowing down after 2 years. That's just how these things go. Time to buy a new one. Probably just a coincidence.


I'll finish writing my book on this subject. One day. But until then, if you think my ramblings about designed experiences are border-line conspiracy theories, take a look at just how much detail goes into designing the sounds a car makes (and doesn't make).

Not the engine.


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You probably never really pay attention to the sounds your car makes. But somewhere in the world a group of people were paid a large amount of money to design every conceivable detail about it in an effort to design and control your behaviour.