Monday, April 14, 2008

Form Follows Function?

I needed to do some laundry yesterday, and discovering that we were out of laundry detergent, set out to the store to get some more. In buying the package seen on the right, I was reminded of one of my pet peeves about how many companies package their product.

Note the strap at the center of the box. This is, naturally, intended to aid in carrying the box. It is generally found on heavier boxes, in my experience, which is part of the reason that this is a pet peeve. I'm certainly glad that the package designers thought to include some form of carrying device on such a box, but these boxes almost universally use a thin, but strong plastic that, when used on heavy boxes such as this one, makes them downright painful to carry! The plastic digs into the skin of your fingers as you carry it, and I've almost always found that it's better to just carry the box by holding the whole thing from the bottom.

I'm sure that part of the reason this type of plastic is used (instead of some less painful alternative) is to keep costs down. The plastic is so thin that I'm pretty confident it's not very expensive. But I'd almost rather not have the strap at all than be stuck with this if it's my only alternative. With no strap at all, I wouldn't be tempted to use it, and I'd thus save my hand the injury. With the strap there, I have to make a conscious choice not to use it, and usually I don't do so until after I've absent-mindedly taken a hold of it and walked a few steps, suddenly remembering why that's not a good idea as the pain courses through my fingers with the full weight of box bearing downward.

They say that form should follow function. If you ask me, this form doesn't allow for the expected function very well....

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