This edition of Packaging Busts is a bit different as we go beyond the obvious packaging missteps and delve into a common error: Usability.

The issue of usability can be caused in the packaging development world in several formats ranging from creating original packaging to redevelopment and refreshing. At times the root cause of the usability problem may look like it’s directly related to packaging. As you dive deeper, the root cause can be complex usually relating to decision making or lack of communication by the packaging team and other vested parties.

At times packaging will be produced without actual product; which can cause havoc. In certain instances, CAD models or a sketch may be the only items for product reference. This does not always translate into great usability.

More often than not, usability requirements are not part of packaging requirements or are even considered heavily. Most companies who do not focus on usability do not have long term success. Users end up irritated and either return the product, do not purchase again, or seek out the competition. Generally, the most successful companies are ones who target usability into their product and packaging development.

In some cases the product can be great, but the interaction between the product and packaging leads to a snafu. Recently a prime example of the usability issue by a produce seed originator was discovered. It appears the company was attempting to improve their packaging. Once they modified one packaging factor, it caused a decline in usability leading to the easy process of removing seeds from the package being lost.

The images below show the usability issue as well as few other items noticed when trying to use the product as intended.


Seeds Front

Seeds – Secondary Packaging

From first glance, the image above looks like a standard seed package.

Adhesive Issue - Flap Tears Easily

Adhesive Issue – Flap Tears Easily

When opening the package, there is a issue with the paper seed sleeve due to adhesive and packaging interaction causing the flap to impede the seeds from free-flowing  out of the package. It is believed this issue was recognized and was “fixed” by placing seeds into a plastic sachet.

Adhesive/Flap Issue - Tearing to Secondary

Adhesive/Flap Issue – Tear to Sleeve and Sachet

The photo above depicts the plastic sachets placed in the paper sleeve that have been ripped open.

Plastic Sachet where seeds are placed

Plastic Sachet Where Seeds Placed

The plastic sachet may have also been selected to increase shelf stability. The issue with incorporating the new plastic sachet is usability was not taken into account. Opening the sachet is a problem because the seeds location is unknown causing seeds to potentially fall out. When finally opening the sachet, it is hard to eject the seeds out of the package. This causes the user to open up the sachet completely. When opening the sachet, the seeds are lodged in-between the seams of the sachet making movement of seeds difficult. The user ends up having to use their fingers to ajar and extract the seeds from the seams. By doing so the seeds without this problem can move freely and be displaced; potentially falling on to the ground. In certain instances the seeds can be difficult to find, especially when working in nature.

As shown, usability is often not taken into account for packaged products and should be.

Feel free to send in your “Packaging Busts”. We would love to hear from you!

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