Thursday, February 10, 2005

Using shapes to make life easier

While drinking tea at a "bakery" near my office I noticed something interesting. The "curry-puffs" (or "patties" as they're sometimes called) all have different shapes. To the uninitiated, puffs (no relation to Sean Combs) are baked delicacies that are quite popular, to my knowledge in Hyderabad, and Bangalore. The "egg-puff" is shaped like a quadrilateral with four "wings" folded over the egg. The vegetable puff is a triangle. The chicken puff is a rectangle and so on. Each type of puff has a unique shape. There's also another bakery near-by that has slightly different "shape coding" for its puffs, but they're all made in different shapes. For someone who's selling these things, once you learn the "shape code" there's pretty much no confusion. Now, the people who make these puffs, I am pretty sure that they've not had any usability training. Some salesperson probably got confused trying to figure out whether a certain puff was vegetarian or non-vegetarian and it forced someone to come up with a "shape code". If the bakers can do it, what's stopping the highly "technical" people (with fancy degrees)? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?


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