Out of box experience design: the Bento Box metaphor

Note: This post is over 4 years old. It was first published in May 2007

I’ve been having a lot of fun doing out of box experience design consultancy over the last few weeks (OOBE as it is pretentiously called by those in the know). If you’ve ever opened an Apple product then you’ll know what an excellent out of box experience is; and, if you’ve ever opened a packaged copy of Windows Vista you’ll know what a bad out of box experience is. [See a nice comparison on Robert Hoekman’s blog, via Reaction.]

Bento Box

If you look around on the web, there isn’t much in the way of out-of-box design guidelines, with the notable exception of IBM’s offering. So I’ve put together a mini set of guidelines based on a metaphor of the bento box.

A bento box:

  • Is a joy to use.
  • Actively improves your perception of the contents, through attention to every minute detail.
  • Encourages an order of consumption – the physical structure affords consumption of the top layer first. This is very useful if you need your user to do things in a certain order.
  • Compartments are spacious enough to allow easy access to contents.
  • Makes it just as easy to put things in as to take things out.

So next time you’re doing OOBE design with a bunch of non-UX people, introduce this metaphor to your team. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’ll give you a piece of common vocabulary to hang your ideas off.

I’m really interested to hear your comments – so please comment below! >>>

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