Noticing the Invisible

12oz or 16oz?

My day starts in a world designed for me by someone, experiences created for me by someone. Whether it is buying the ticket for my train, crossing a street, opening a door, ordering a coffee or just sitting in a movie theatre… someone designed my experience.

“Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.” — Jared Spool

This is my attempt at observing these “invisible” designs that make my life a little bit easier. I will try to note down one small little detail every week that made me a happier person.

I thought I’d start with one of the most popular coffee shops in the Bay area. Going to Philz at least once a day is a ritual in my office. It’s the place where all the cool discussions happen and new ideas are born. I don’t know when I became a part of the “work at the coffee shop” culture, but here I am sitting at Philz near my house writing this article. While I was waiting for my chai the other day, I noticed how they have put up sample cup sizes on display right where the customers order. When I visit a new coffee shop I often wonder how small the “small” (replace with any other synonyms used for small) size is. I probably didn’t even realize that I never asked this question at Philz. It rescued the introvert in me from asking another question, probably saved the barista from the frustration of having to answer the same question for the 100th time in a day and spared me a few curses from the guy behind me for taking too long.

This was a very small thoughtful gesture that made my experience of getting a cup of coffee smooth. The idea behind it is simple, as Steve Krug says “Don’t make me think”. I guess that principle of putting my needs first is what has spoiled me and makes me go there again and again.

A display of the cup sizes at Philz Coffee

Thanks Darya for helping me out with the picture and Lasya for helping with the editing.

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