Last time we wrote about the design of the X-Stand™, we spoke of the idea “simple balance”. Simply put, “Enough function to deliver a confident standing desk experience wherever you chose to work without adding undo complexity”. As a follow-up to that discussion, I thought it might be of interest to write about a few ways in which that essence drove design choices while we were creating the X-Stand™.
The First Decision – How Much Adjustability?
There were a couple of pivotal decisions that highlight choices we made to hold true to the “simple balance” ethos. The first was height adjustability. Initially, our goal was to produce a portable standing desk solution that was infinitely adjustable to fit folks of all heights and all work surface combinations, yet still remain portable enough to bring with you to the coffee shop, co-working space, or from room to room in your house. Below are a couple of sketches that illustrate some of that early thinking.
You don’t have to fully understand how these might (or might not) work to immediately grasp that there is a lot going on with them mechanically.
As a designer, I have painfully learned that if a product looks complex, then it is.
Even if a designed object is not hard to learn to use, visual complexity alone is enough to cause angst. A product had better add a significant amount of value to a person’s life if there is a long and complex learning curve to master it (think automobile).
This early exploration led us to a different line of thought, what is the absolute minimum amount of work heights we could offer that could comfortably cover almost all of people/ work surface combinations? After a bunch of prototypes and testing on friends and family, we landed on two work heights. We were surprised that we could accommodate all but the extremes of people/ work surface combinations with only two heights. With the adjustability of computer screen angles two work surfaces on the X-Stand™ did indeed meet our goal.
The Second Decision – Can Mom Assemble It?
The second decision centered around the assembly. It’s always good to have specific and measurable criteria to measure against when solving a design problem. In the case of assembly, we had two: can my mom put it together without reading any instructions, and can it be ready to use in two seconds? Although these criteria aligned with our minimum complexity design philosophy, we thought they might be a bit of a stretch. Too many parts, not going to cut it:
Stretch or not, having the mom and two-second ready-to-go criteria truly helped us focus. The fewest number of parts we could achieve with very overt visual cues that couldn’t be put together incorrectly led us to our two-part/ visually obvious slot solution:
My mom could indeed assemble it, and most folks can get it together in three seconds or so.
As we continue to grow the usefulness of the X-Stand™ through the addition of accessories and options, the lessons learned, both good and bad, right or wrong, while trying to achieve simplicity in the core product, will carry through the design DNA. (Thanks, Mom!)