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The importance of asking why?

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Our user experience manager James Sharpe recently watched a movie called The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck. James loves that film, and harped on about it for weeks. One scene, in particular, got him - and me - thinking.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil the film for those yet to see this masterpiece. As you were.

Affleck plays an introvert on the autism spectrum. The scene in question sees Affleck cooking himself dinner. He places his meal on the table and opens the cutlery drawer to reveal just one fork, one knife and one spoon. Living alone and with no one coming over for tea, Affleck’s character has no reason to have any more cutlery. A moment of beautiful simplicity.

We can often improve on design by making things simpler. A key principle of creating a great user experience is to keep asking why things are as they are, never accepting “it’s always been that way” as an answer.

And we can apply the same thinking in our lives. Just because you’ve always done things a certain way, it doesn’t make it the best way.

When you look at your day-to-day life and ask “why?”, what steps could you take to make things a little easier?

DLG Digital is a department stacked with digital thinkers, so here are some everyday things they think we need to question.

1. Why pile up dirty dishes in the sink?

The point of the sink is a place to wash dirty dishes, something which is pretty much impossible when it’s rammed full of them. There’s nothing more annoying than having to remove all the dirty plates from the sink to make room to wash them.

It’s like putting your dirty socks back in your shoes when you get home, knowing that when you reach for your shoes the following day you’ll have to take the dirty socks out. I’m sure there are better analogies, but you get the point.

2. Why use traditional stemmed wine glasses?

Before you pigeonhole us as being obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses, give this one a chance. Anyone with a dishwasher will understand the pain of loading the thing when traditional stemmed wine glasses are out to play. Ensuring that the glasses and the crockery that you use fit your washer racks will make your life just that little bit easier.

3. Why leave tidying until later?

The simple act of putting things back when you’re done with them will reduce clutter and keep things looking nice and tidy. A tough task, but once baked into your routine, can be a life changer. Even if you can’t do it all the time, every little helps.

4. Why buy socks with many different designs and colours?

How many odd socks do you have in your sock drawer? I’ll hazard a guess that at some point this week you’ve struggled to find a pair, settling instead for two similarly-coloured foot gloves.

The solution is ludicrously simple. Only buy socks of the same colour and pattern. Not only does this solve the odd sock problem, but also eliminates the need to pair up – just grab two individual socks each morning.

5. Why cook porridge in a pan?

First off, if you’re cooking porridge for more than two people, you’re probably going to be better off doing things the traditional way in a pan. But if you only want a single portion then you can do it all in the microwave.

Add your oats and milk/water to a bowl, then ping it in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes. Some people like to stir it halfway through, so do whatever works for you. The result is perfect porridge, without the hassle of having to clean a pan – which we all know would be sat soaking in the sink for ages.

Hopefully you’re not asking yourself why you bothered reading this blog.

If you’ve got suggestions of your own which can improve day-to-day tasks, please let us know over on Twitter.