The Refrigerator Theory of Product Design

by Ian Rosenwach on 4.13.2018

 Refrigerator Theory of Web Design

Have you ever woken up, made a fresh pot of coffee, only to open the refrigerator and not be able to find the half & half? After digging through the olives and hummus, you FINALLY find it.

But your experience was frustrating, especially considering that was pre-coffee. Your day is off on the wrong foot.

Designing a website, app, or other digital product is like organizing your refrigerator.

Think about how you organize your fridge. You might have a section for cheese. Then there’s your meat section (or soy products), condiments grouped together, with the most frequently eaten foods in the most accessible places. Perhaps you try to shape your behavior by making healthier foods, or those with less of a shelf life, more accessible. When food rots, you clean the fridge (technical debt).

When you start designing an app, website, or any type of digital experience ask yourself – where do I put the most used items? The occasional indulgences? Time-sensitive items? The same rationale for refrigerator organization applies to website design.

The fridge might have more lock-in power than your average website or app – you can’t download a new fridge or move your food to a new one – but you get the point.

Now go organize that fridge!

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