Thoughtless Acts: Glass Full of iPhone

Oct 12, 2018

Human-centered design requires us to observe human behavior with beginner's eyes, so that we can spot the innate ways people interact with the world around them. We call these intuitive and unconscious reactions Thoughtless Acts, and IDEO designers collect photos of them to inspire their work.

“What's going on there?” asked my colleague Ed, in his usual bouncing demeanor, pointing at my phone propped in its handy, commonly-found, IKEA glassware receptacle.

I was in the last weeks of a project, building out a mobile-first website to showcase our final deliverables. I was going about my usual process, with a minimal set up: designing the UI in Sketch, mirroring the artboards on my phone.

“What? This?” I replied, adjusting the angle of my glass full of iPhone.

“Yeah. I've never seen anyone do that before,” he chimed back.

It dawned on me that this behavior in my design quiver—something I'd been doing since my very first mobile design moment—may not be that common.

Instead of having to stop and pick up my phone every time I need to check my work, I just plop it in a glass, adjust the angle, and check my design’s mobile readiness with a glance.

The adjustability and the “there's probably one lying around” factor of a drinking glass elevates it to a handy design tool that I’ve used throughout my career.

And once you’ve shipped the design, it also makes for a great vessel for a celebratory swally.

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