Design a minibar with Tim Harford

Like engineers, we sit around and think about ways to make the good easier and the bad harder. In December of last year this happened when I swapped a tray of cookies into the pantry and replaced it with dried fruit, fresh fruit, and nuts. Though the cookies were still an arm’s reach away, they were out-of-sight behind a door the cookie consumption crumbled.

As a fan of design, it was a treat to see Tim Harford’s approach in his FT article about adjusting his mobile phone usage:

Trying to get some work done with an internet-enabled device is like trying to diet when there’s a mini-fridge full of beer and ice cream sitting on your desk, always within arm’s reach

Tim Harford

Harford removed apps from his phone and installed software on his computer. Both actions increased the friction. It was a good nudge (Harford appreciates Thaler’s work), Harford had access, but had to work for it.

Design is not divine. Design is a messy process of interviews, prototypes, iterations, and all kinds of other stuff. Designing is like any other verb. It’s a skill people learn and like learning the guitar, it’s ineffecient at first.

Designs encourage the easy. There are no pull-up bars in hotel rooms. If there were, we’d do more pull-ups.

Designs encourage the easy. There are mini-fridges in hotels rooms. There are internet enabled devices in our pockets. To change an action, try to change the design.

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