Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

What is the difference between a good product and a great product? A good product answers the question of what is needed and is usable and functional. A great product has all the same qualities but also gives you the drive and desire to return to the product again and again. It makes your life easier for the task at hand and is something you would recommend to others. Anyone can design a product, it doesn’t mean that it is user-friendly or that it fills a need for the consumer.

Not everyone notices a good design, especially when it’s done well.

Product design is something that I appreciate. This is something that is in everything that is around us. Not everyone notices a good design, especially when it’s done well. It seems poor design is noticed more (and consciously missed) when a consumer finds fault with something or has trouble accomplishing the task at hand. Personally, I would love to be a part of designing a product that is functional, easy to use, and helps the consumer. It adds a little bit of order and reassurance in an often chaotic world.

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

Today, facing the Covid-19 pandemic, not everyone is able to get out and go grocery shopping. How can I be safe, protect my family from infection, and still get the groceries we need to survive? An answer to that dilemma is Instacart. Even without Covid-19, not everyone can get out and go shopping. It could be due to disability, sickness, living alone, no vehicle, busy schedule, pregnancy, and even more present-day issues, such as social anxiety/agoraphobia, that inhibit the consumer from shopping.

For the last year or two, this digital service has been more essential than I ever imagined. My use of Instacart began when I was pregnant and unable to carry the groceries, now it helps me again to get groceries to feed my family and keep them safe during the pandemic. This product is easy to use and convenient. I can put together a list either days in advance or in a couple hours, and it will come delivered to my door. I am still able to get groceries from the places that I love to shop. If changes are necessary, I have the technology through the app to communicate with the Instacart shopper to let them know what is or isn’t acceptable.

Although this service has been available in large, urban areas for years, it has only recently been introduced here in Maine. It has introduced change to how many people I know shop, organize their menus and make their food choices. This technology has probably saved lives during the pandemic. In a rural state, this service has been vital, especially for the elderly facing COVID-19, but it also highlights the cruelty of the digital divide, especially in rural areas with limited internet service.

While digital products such as Instacart and Uber Eats concrete services, there are some products that answer the need for escapism very well and can even be addicting. Especially during a pandemic that isolates and terrifies. These outlets can become such a part of my life that I can often feel even negatively habituated. For example, in my life Tiktok is just such a comforting addiction when I am bored, lonely, and feeling isolated. It provides me with a sense of community, escape, and entertainment. Tiktok is an excellent product and during this time is a great outlet, but it is no replacement for a real community. And at times, I can spend hours enmeshed in it, losing my sense of time. Tiktok is a comfort and an escape, and some days it is almost an addiction.

Product design can create not just tangible objects but also the intangible. The emotional feelings and experience that we have are all a part of the final product.