Blog-On product design and packaging

On product design and packaging

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Two weeks back, my family got back from a vacation. We wanted to get checked for Covid even though we wore our masks everywhere. (We went to Peru where masks were mandatory at every place we visited. That’s a story for another day).

I took out the home covid test kits that USPS had delivered for free and give them a test drive!

We had two brands of covid test kits. One was the iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test kit. And the other was the QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test kit.

Both of them came in a packet of two test kits. which means one box can be used to test two people (or do two tests on one person). Since we are a family of three I ended up using both the test kits. I couldn’t help but compare the two test kits and think about the user experience.

I am not comparing the pricing or the accuracy of the two test kits, only my experience using them.

iHealth COVID-19 antigen rapid test kit:

iHealth COVID-19 antigen rapid test kit

How it’s done:

  1. You brush both the nostril walls with the nasal swab.
  2. Insert the swab into the tube and stir in so the fluids from the swab get into the tube’s solution.
  3. Close the tube and open the tiny cap on top of the tube to squeeze in 3 drops of the solution onto the test strip.
  4. Wait for 15 minutes.

My thoughts:

  • Instructions are clear and easy to understand.
  • Easy to use and test. The setup is simple and you don’t have to worry about the tube spilling the liquid especially if you are infected.
  • Test results are easy to understand and decipher.
  • The packaging is minimal. Environmental waste after use is way less.
  • Easy to store and carry. The smaller packaging is a big plus if you’re traveling. It fits snugly in my carry bag.

In a facility handling thousands of these covid test kits before sending them off to people, smaller packages could be a big plus.

It was no surprise that we got this Covid test kit brand multiple times from USPS.

QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test kit

QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test kit

How it’s done:

  1. You swab your nose with the long nose swab.
  2. You open the tube containing the testing liquid and leave the swab in the testing liquid for 1 minute.
  3. Remove the nasal swab and insert the test strip into the tube with the liquid for 10 minutes. (You have to make sure to insert the test strip with the arrows pointing down and only hold the top portion.)
  4. After 10 minutes, you leave the test strip on the instructions paper and match it to the results code given below (in the instruction manual)

My thoughts:

  • The instructions were confusing and hard to decode. It took me a while to figure out where to place the strip to learn the results.
  • It is hard to use and confusing to figure out the process. I was terrified I will spill the tube with the liquid when I inserted the swab or the test strip, with the weight of either of them. For 10 minutes! The packaging provides a stand for the tube, but what if I knock the strip out? What if I knock the entire package over?
  • There was a ton of packaging waste. An entire stand for the tube and all the contents in addition to the plastic wraps that each of the kit items came in. The swab was so long for no reason other than making the package longer. The package stand was unnecessary and only adds to the environmental waste.
  • It definitely took up more space in my medicine box. When I could fit the iHealth kit snugly, I had a hard time storing this one. If I am traveling it would take up more space in my bag.

It is no surprise that we only got one kit of this brand never to see it again.

What to consider when designing and packaging your product

This experience made me think long and hard about product packaging and designing.

Good product packaging and designing are more than just eye candy. It is more than aesthetics, marketing, and branding.

It is more than the choices in graphics, colors, and fonts that are used on the wrapping, or the box.

You need to focus on how easy it is to use and understand the product.

How much shelf space will the product use up? Where is the product going to be stored? Is the shape and size of the packaging effective to maximize the storage?

Can the product be stacked?

How simple is it for the users to carry the product?

How much waste can you eliminate when the product and the packages are disposed of? It is a big plus if the packages are recyclable and environmentally friendly.

How can you make your user’s product experience better?

If you are looking for ways to better your business and increase your bottom line, product packaging might be the perfect first step.

Designing and packaging better products help to bring in more customers – happy customers that tend to stay and be loyal to the brand.