What Can Designers Learn from Juicero?

By now you’ve probably seen Bloomberg’s report on the Juicero, which ousts the $400 (initially $700) wifi-enabled juicer by showing that folks can simply “squeeze the Juicero bags with your bare hands”.

I can’t help but find the whole story and response hilarious. It reads like the plot of a Silicon Valley episode (best show ever btw). How did this product last so long on the marketplace before anyone even noticed this major design flaw?

It happens all the time. Laughs aside, there’s an important lesson to be learned here from designers:

Are we designing things in the simplest and best way possible?

Now, I’m not referencing the business side of Juicero, which I think did a brilliant job (they somehow convinced folks they needed a $700 juicer and got Google to invest in them).

From a design standpoint however, they failed. In attempt to make juicing simpler, they added extra steps (ordering proprietary bags), waste, and an extremely costly and (now proven) useless machine.

After reading this story I have been thinking a lot about my own design process. Am I designing websites in the best possible way for users? Or have I been cluttering them with elements that I think are “necessary”, but in reality are just there to look cool and don’t add to the experience?

A recent example that comes to mind is a news section I designed for a site. It was made up by these out-of-the-grid large vertical and square tiles for each blog post that made the section quite large, but bold and enticing. It looked cool! However, the client opted to change it to a shorter, safer, more standard looking grid. I was so angry about this change, made arguments against it with my PM, and huffed and puffed about it until ultimately changing it.

But now this Juicero incident has me thinking. Was my original design useful and help make the experience of getting to those blog posts any better or simpler? Not really. I now look at the design and realize it is much less confusing for users and makes it simpler to get to the blog posts. How about that!

So let’s learn a lesson from Juicero and make sure we’re not designing pretty, but useless $700 machines for the world. Let’s make sure what we design makes things simpler and better for people.

Now I’m really craving a glass of juice...