I throw a mean dinner party.
And by mean, I mean mean.
I almost always make sure my parties have a bar. No, not that kind of bar. A food bar. Tacos, sliders, waffles, you name it. The kind of bar where you as a guest have the power to assemble your own plate. The last party I threw happened to be a bun and boba bar — a spread of asian pork belly, steamed buns, pickled veggies, flavored milk teas, and a plethora of topping mix-ins.
I’m fixed on food bars because they provide a multifaceted experience for both myself and my guests. Food bars allow guests an exciting hands-on opportunity and gives me the freedom of choosing what toppings and ingredients are available. I am able to strategically create and place elements to maximize enjoyment for the guest experience. And not only must I create a pleasing presentation and sensible arrangement, but I must also ensure that every element serves to highlight the main appeal — the food.
But why, might you ask, am I going on and on about my damn food bars? What do food bars have anything to do with product design?
In essence, I am designing an experience.
Whether it’s laying out varieties of slider toppings or altering the contrast on a menu bar, I am exercising intentionality in the creation of the user experience. When I create a bar, I invite a group to come together and make sure all guests understand the flow of the spread — that the veggies do not come before the sliders and that all elements are correctly labeled, visible, and accessible. When all parts come together, there is potential to produce wonderful feelings of fulfillment, sense of community, and joy. In the same way, when designing a product like a website, one must ensure that the landing page contains the necessary elements for clear navigation from the start. This too can promote positive feelings like delight, ease, and safety. All of these things are concerned with constructing meaningful, effective interactions for the individual.
Like product content, food itself plays a key role. If food is of low quality, presentation will be of little value. Not even the prettiest of plates would have the power to redeem a lackluster flavor. Likewise, if content is of low quality, design will merely be a band-aid for a deep wound. But if one can successfully marry both content and presentation, there exists an opportunity to create something excellent — something that can change lives and generate positive feelings, whether through good hospitality or good product design.
It’s this possibility of creating pleasant experiences that attracts me to product design. To have a hand in the intricacies of where elements fall on a page, where buttons link to, or what emotions are cultivated, I want to be a part of a movement that ensures that users feel thoroughly taken care of.